Help The Afghan Children

Our mission is to help Afghan children become educated, healthy, and productive citizens who are able to fully contribute to building Afghanistan's civil society. We accomplish this by working with supporting partners to establish model community-based schools in different regions of Afghanistan; by providing training to local educators to enhance their professional capacities; and by developing and introducing innovative learning programs
May 7, 2012

HTAC expands peace-building into local communities

Since 2003, HTAC's ground-breaking peace education program has taught over 53,000 Afghan children at 44 schools to reject violence and incorporate the lessons of peace into their everyday lives.  Now a new program, built on many of the same peace-building principles taught in Afghan schools, is reaching and benefiting entire local communities where these children live.

A recently completed project in Samangan Province (north-central Afghanistan) trained and empowered local community groups (Shuras) in learning how to effectively address and resolve their conflicts while building a foundatin for peaceful cooperation.  HTAC provided hands-on training for 2,028 members, 745 of whom were women.  These local groups represented approximately 20,000 citizens.

Members learned such skills as non-violent conflict resolution techniques, building collaborative relationships, mediation, conducting effective meetings, and taking positive actions to resolve long-standing problems.

The 6-month effort was a resounding success.  Community leaders and independent observers reported sharp decreases in conflicts, both within and between local groups.  Our team observed significant improvements in how meetings were conducted as these groups were able to effectively address previously unresolved conflicts that were important to their communities.  In a male-dominated society such as Afghanistan, the team also saw a greater inclusion of women as active participants and decison-makers.

Feb 13, 2012

Teaching Afghan girls about peace is important too

Fatima Haidari - 8th grader
Fatima Haidari - 8th grader

While much attention (about peace education in our schools) appropriately focuses on changing the negative attitudes and aggressive behaviors of boys, HTAC has found that teaching Afghan girls about peaceful everyday living has great value as well.

Our experience at multiple school sites show that high percentages of Afghan girls (not yet exposed to our program), regularly engage in fighting, harassment, and other aggressive behaviors as well as showing disrespect for fellow students, teachers, and even their parents.

Why is it important for girls (as well as boys) to learn about peace?  Deocumented studies have shown that educated Afghan women often provide a stabilizing influence in their households and are a bulwark against extremist views.

Consider the story of Fatima Haidari, in her own words, an eight-grader at one of the schools where HTAC's peace education program is being implemented. 

My conflict happened almost 2 years ago between me and a girl of a family living nearby.  It was over filling of water tanks from a public hand pump.  I wanted to fill the water tank first, but the girl was not allowing me, telling me that she was here first. I knew I had arrived at the water pump before her and that it was my turn.  We started shouting at one another and before I knew it, we were fighting.  It was horrible.  Both of us were bruised and hurt, but the conflict continued.  Every time we saw one another, the tension returned.  Although other girls (we were close to), were often present at the pump station, none of them stepped in to help us and resolve our problem.  It is what it is, some of my friends would say.

Last year, a female teacher came to our class and recommended that we enroll in a new peace education program.  When I saw many of my friends expressing their interest, I raised my hand and told the teacher that I would like to participate, but first needed to ask permission from my parents.  I was relieved and excited to get their approval and soon I began attending peace education sessions.  I learned a lot about the importance of mediation and practical skills of resolving conflicts peacefully, without resorting to fighting; not only at school, but in the home and our community.

As classes continued, I began to feel more positive about my attitudes and my behavior with other students as well as members in my own family.  This led me to believe that I could finally resolve my differences with this girl I had fought with 2 years ago.

One day, our paths crossed while walking to school.   I said 'hello' and greetings to her and I apologized for what had happened.  She looked angry, but accepted my greetings.  I then invited her to come to my home for lunch and to discuss our issues in a friendly manner.  She agreed and two days later, she came to our home with her small brother.  We shared some great food and talked about the benefits of peace and why it was wrong to constantly be in conflict.  By the end of lunch, she smiled at me and we hugged.  I felt so wonderful at that moment, as if a great burden had been lifted from my shoulders.  I am happy to say that we became friends.

Fatima Haidari, 8th grade student at Abdullah Bin-Omar School

Feb 13, 2012

Spotlight on HTAC model school

photo of Abdulla Bin-Omar School
photo of Abdulla Bin-Omar School

Abdullah Bin-Omar (or ABO) was established as a model school, one of the first of its kind in Afghanistan, by HTAC in a beautiful, but vastly underserved district (Paghman), about 30 miles West of Kabul, the capital, surrounded by foothills and impressive mountains peaks in the distance.

Before the school was built, children had their lessons outside; sometimes having to sit under a hot blazing sun in the Summer or braving the cold temperatures in the late Fall and early Winter.  Yet, the students came because of their own thirst for knowledge and because their parents believed in an education (and a future) for their children.

Today, ABO has become a flagship model school, boasting 26 classrooms, 7 administrative rooms, a deep well for clean drinking water and 12 sanitary latrines.  ABO also has a computer laboratory that can accommodate up to 14 students at a time.  The Lab. is also used to provide computer application training for teachers and administrative staff.

Currently, 1,497 students (781 girls and 716 boys) attend classes in 2 shifts.  The school employs 43 female and male teachers.  HTAC supplements the standard (required) curriculum with such programs as: peace education, environmental education, and a unique bilingual literacy program called "Read Afghanistan", which is having a big impact on improving the literacy comprehension levels of many primary and middle school aged students.  Each year, selected students participate in cultural exchange projects with American 'sister schools'.

For physical exercise, students participate in soccer, volleyball and a playground- built from private donations. 

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