A new Afghan school year started in March. As GoodWeave’s Shahrak-e-Qalinbafan Child Development Center proudly graduated 15 students into public school, prepared to learn and thrive, we also welcomed a new group of 15 children. Over the next few years, we look forward to seeing them grow in the safe, nurturing environment of the Development Center – and to sharing some of their stories with you.
Today, I’d like to share the story of one little girl whose life has changed because of your generous support. I hope her story will also help you to understand the important role that early childhood development plays as part of the larger movement to educate girls in Balkh Province.
To escape regional insecurity, Farida’s family of 10 fled Kunduz Province and moved to Shahrak-e-Qalin Bafan, a government-supported settlement for displaced carpet weavers, a few years ago. In 2013, two-year-old Farida was enrolled in GoodWeave’s Shahrak-e-Qalinbafan Child Development Center. She was the quietest and shyest child in the classroom, and her mother says, "She always preferred to be alone.”
In the two years since joining the daycare, Farida has become an eager learner. She has flourished socially and now enjoys memorizing poems, reading to friends and introducing herself in English. She already has a dream for the future – to become an ophthalmologist, so that she can treat her mother’s eyes, enabling her to weave more easily. When speaking of her young daughter, Farida’s mother says that attending the daycare has made her “a different girl.” And when it comes time for her to enter school, she will be ready.
Farida’s new-found self-confidence has also inspired her mother to commit to education for all of her daughters. Because of her daughter’s experience through GoodWeave’s Child Development Center, she now sees education as essential to a child’s development. For Balkh Province weaving families, the tide is changing for girls’ education. As the demand for a nurturing space for young children like Farida continues to grow, GoodWeave needs your support to ensure that every child has the chance to thrive. With your help, we look forward to hearing many more stories like Farida’s.
Now in the middle of its third year, the daycare’s presence as a center for education and support within the community continues to grow. This year’s class of 40 children ages 2 to 6 engage in activities including math, Dari language, dance, and sports that foster their development at a critical time. They learn to write their names, sing their national anthem, practice basic hygiene, and recite poetry. In a country where girls are often faced with danger when seeking education, students like Homaira, pictured above, grow prepared and excited to enter government school.
As January sets in, families in the Balkh Province face a long winter. For those served by the Center, many of whom have refugee status and live in unstable conditions, winter can be a difficult time. Cold weather poses challenges to children’s health and wellbeing, and we are concerned about these families’ ability to stay warm. The Center’s staff work to make sure that families have access to the warm clothing and nutritious foods they will need to get through the winter- so that adults can work to support their families and their children can arrive at the Center ready to play, learn, and grow.
Your support helps to address the Center’s other needs as well. As it grows colder, expenses increase as wood must be purchased to heat the building through its wood-burning stove. The Center serves nutritious daily meals to each child, and ensures that children from remote locations are able to attend by providing transportation. Because of your support, the Center can continue to be a warm and safe place throughout the winter.
I want to share with you more news about how the daycare you helped to build in Afghanistan has been embraced by the local community as a center for education, support, and opportunity. This summer, the Center was used in a new way: to provide educational support for school-age girls in the village.
Thankfully, we were able to keep the daycare program running during the hot summer months with a new cooling system. However, the Center was not being used in the mornings before the daycare opened, so our staff brainstormed a way to make even further use of the Center and support the ongoing education of girls in the community. When we asked local weaving families if they would be interested in morning classes to provide additional learning and support for girls enrolled in school, the response was overwhelmingly positive. The families are eager to see their girls excel in their studies- and 54 students attended classes from 7 am to 10 am throughout the summer! Each morning, they participated in exercises to strengthen their academic abilities and prepare for the coming school year. The skills gained through the prep courses will help these girls to continue their education with confidence.
Now in its third year, the Center recently welcomed a new class of 40 children. While our daycare provides a nurturing environment for young children and prepares them to enter the public school system, the morning classes were an opportunity for girls to thrive at the next level of their education. These programs have created a stronger sense of community ownership of the Center, and we continue to see a shift in attitudes toward valuing the education of children, including girls. Because of your generous gift, the Center can continue to grow its presence in the local community and to provide invaluable support for the children of weaving families.
With deep gratitude,
I’m thrilled to share two updates with you from our early childhood development center in Afghanistan that you have so generously been supporting.
Firstly, we are happy to report that we were able to install a cooling system in the daycare center. Without this cooling system the center would have had to close during the summer months because it would have been too hot for the children to stay in the center. Thankfully the daycare can stay open and the children can remain in a comfortable and nurturing environment while their mothers weave.
Our second update is a truly joyous one. In June, we celebrated International Children’s Day at the center. As you can see from the photos, the children celebrated in style – with cake, presents and party hats! While this day was a day filled with fun and games, it also holds a much greater significance.
Afghanistan is consistently named one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a child, and one of the worst countries to be a mother. Therefore this was also a day to celebrate and reflect on the opportunities that this program provides to both the children and their mothers. Women are able to concentrate on their craft and earn more income for their family, while their sons and daughters are in a separate, healthy and educational environment with an opportunity to learn, play and thrive with peers. It was a celebration of childhood, motherhood, and the empowering opportunities that they now have – thanks to your support.
We cannot thank you enough for giving these children and mothers such a beautiful reason to celebrate.
With heartfelt gratitude,
I am happy to share some heartwarming news from Balkh province in Afghanistan, where you are generously supporting a daycare center.
There are currently 38 children enrolled, including kids from remote rural families so GoodWeave provides transportation to ensure their inclusion. Their days are divided between basic lessons, meal time and play time. Please take a look at the photographs to see them in action!
While this center cares for the immediate needs of these vulnerable children, there was always a bigger picture and intention here: to set a precedent for educating rather than employing children, especially girls. And we are thrilled to share that this is proving true – the children who “graduate” from our Center are thriving and continuing in their education.
I recently met with two girls from the Center who are now in elementary school. I talked to their teacher who spoke enthusiastically about their school work: “The girls are really intelligent students. They are with a courage and can speak well [in] front of others... Overall, I’m happy from them and I really appreciate GoodWeave for their service.”
GoodWeave may provide the service, but you GlobalGivers, provide the support. I hope this report has shown you how you are truly making a difference in the lives and futures of these children.
Sharif M. Niazi
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GoodWeave Executive Director