An update from our manager on the ground (JJ)
The trees our staff planted three years ago are giving fresh fruits now and students are tasting it for the first time. There are a lot of trees at BCG now and most of them have fruit this year. Peach is the most successful of all. Last week the children celebrated their first peach tasting! When I asked them how it taste? the answer was obviously positive “very sweet".
Also there are many apple tree which have apples this year but now they are raw. and will be ready to eat in a month inshallah (god willing). so after this there are not only vegetables at BCG but fruits too. again I congratulate it to Global Roots and its honorable donors specially those who helped us to make this garden and give these fruits and vegetables to children (orphans) now. -- JJ
Oversight challenge. Due to the country’s ever-changing political climate, it is getting more and more difficult for local Global Roots managers to transmit video of the Baharak Children’s Garden along with precise measurement data.
There isn’t single high speed internet link between Baharak and Kabul. We had hoped for a while that the country’s largest telephone and wireless company, Roshan, would help provide a line but negotiations have been slow. We are hoping to eventually transmit videos of our project by way of a one way wire that connects a hospital in nearby Faizabad with a hospital in Pakistan. The Pakistani hospital is connected to the World Wide Web so it would be very easy for the hospital to forward the data to us in the USA.
We are waiting for the various players to sign off on the deal. The videos show children growing and eating food — so we hope no outside authority will interfere with the transmission.
Oversight Mission. We are paying the expenses (about $600) for one of our transparency managers to travel from Kabul up to Baharak to conduct careful project oversight this spring. The Afghan Air Force will give our manager a lift in a “return of remains” helicopter flight.
Project Expansion. We are seeking a major grant from US AID to expand our project. Please stay tuned and don't hesitate to write your congressman on our behalf.
Annual Report. the annual report for this program will available in two weeks and it will automatically be sent to all GlobalGiving donors. Please stay tuned for the metrics for the program you have so graciously donated to..
Global Roota Management
We are pleased to report that our 2014 Baharak Children’s Garden (BCG) is already producing vegetables for local consumption by the 60 children it serves — including 20 who have been orphaned by war.
The BCG and Foster Child Network is providing a nurturing environment and food for otherwise destitute children as well as job opportunities for the local women who have few options to provide for themselves and their families. The promise of food from our vegetable garden and chicken egg farm convinces good but very poor local families to take in the orphaned children.
One of the orphaned children served by our garden had this to say:
“On the one hand, we live in a dry location and we do not have enough land and water to grow vegetables. On the other hand, we do not have money to buy vegetables from Bazar which is very far from us. The only way we have to get vegetables is to come to BCG and get it easily and without cost.”
Attached is a spreadsheet describing the true monthly cost of the Baharak Children’s Garden. Global Roots finances the garden for seven months a year and then we try to make a donation for the winter-time survival of the 20 orphaned children we support.
Details about our current garden
The Baharak Children’s Garden is a 1,000 meter garden laid down on dry earth near the town of Baharak We lease the land for $300 a month and we have erected a security wall to protect both the children and our produce.
We chose to lease more expensive land near the town because no child would come if it were too far away and in an unsafe location. The security wall protects our children from potential abduction by Taliban recruiters.
According to our local manager “The protection of orphaned children in Afghanistan is a pressing global humanitarian concern. The Baharak Children's Garden (BCG) helps find homes for orphaned children in Northern Afghanistan and protects them from forced conscription into the ranks of the Taliban and other dangerous affiliations.”
Ongoing challenges in 2014
As stated previously, the Baharak Children’s Garden is located on arid land and there is no irrigation nearby. This means that we must buy expensive fuel for a water pump.
To reduce fuel costs, we have found a solar pump for sale in Kabul. The pump will cost between $900 and $1000. We are looking for one generous donor to finance the purchase of this pump. The donor will receive a photo in the next Global Giving report. Our local manager will hold the pump with the name of the donor on it.
This pump can produce up 1.5 cubic meter water per hour which is enough for BCG. It would then be easy to water the garden daily. The pump has a five-year guarantee for solar and one year for motor. It will cost less than fuel because for generator we need almost $2000 for the whole year, 200 per MONTH plus pipe and generator cost..
Sustainability and Long Term Impact
Our Children's Garden in Baharak turned into a Foster Child Network when our local manager rescued 10 orphaned children with Global Roots funds two years ago on the border of Afghanistan and Tajikstan.
Each of the 10 orphaned children (including four girls) would have fallen into the hands of the Taliban without Janagha’s quick move to protect them.
With your support, we can expand our Foster Child Network to nine small villages and one major city (Faizabad).
Afghanistan is a land where clan is king. If you’re not accepted inside a clan, you will not be trusted and you will fail at any endeavor you embark upon.
Global Roots is already a trusted member of the Baharak community. Our garden supports 60 children — but we are ready to support 600.
Thank you for supporting our program!
The Baharak Children’s Garden — a model of transparency
BCG monthly itemized expenses, April - Oct, 2014 (in US Dollars)
BCG rent per month: 300
Security guard: 200
Water pump fuel for watering: 200
BCG Guard & gardener lunch food expense: 300
Food for chickens: 100
Gardener salary: 300
Garden and Foster Child administration: 280
Grand total: 1,680 per month for 7 months
We are hoping to expand the BCG in 2015. Prices will then decrease dramatically because garden expansion will allow for income generation and eventual self sufficiency.
We thank you al for your support!
We are pleased to announce that we recently wired 2K to Afghanistan to pay for the winter survival costs of the 10 orphaned children and fifty impoverished families we support in Baharak, Afghanistan (including the 50 children who are fed by the Baharak Children's Garden and hen house project).
We had difficulty keeping in touch with our local manager in Baharak due to Internet and telephone connectivity issues. First of all, there is no Internet service in Baharak so our manager must travel several hours to Faizabad to collect and send messages. We are working hard to resolve this problem. Our Executive Director met with Roshan, Afghanistan's largest ISP (and the country's number one tax payer) last spring in Kabul to learn how we can connect our project in Baharak to the World Wide Web. We learned in meetings with Roshan that there is a high speed line from a hospital in Faizabad to a hospital in Pakistan and that we may be able to tap into this line for humanitarian purposes.
We also had difficulty in mid 2013 getting our bank wires to Baharak. Global Roots normally sends $1,685 per month to finance the BCG and our bourgening Foster Care program in Badakshan. Due to disruptions in service, we had to delay sending our wires until we were certain they were arriving on target in a bank account set up by our local partner to receive donations expressly and exclusively from Global Roots. The matter was finally resolved when an intermediary bank in Gemany finally figured out that the beneficiary name on the account in question was not correct. Funds were finally wired when the mistake was rectfied.
All expenditures have been carefully accounted for by our local manager Janagha.
We decided to explain the above administrative bureuacracy because it is very important for all donors to understand how careful we are with the constant monitoring of this project. Our partner promised us 100% transparency and oversight from the very beginning and, with the exception of the afforemetioned connectivity delays, he has never let us down.
We are now ready to plant our 2014 garden and provide more funds for the purchase of 20 new chickens inside our hen house. As you may know, the produce from our garden and the eggs from our hen house go to feed the ten orphaned children we support as well as the families who see to the other 50 children in this program. Because of our close relationship with the community (our exeutive director Rick Montgomery traveled to Kabul to meet with the project manager and a key village elder) last spring we are now in a position to demand more metrics so that we can measure our future success. We were able to do this with our new garden in Kenya (the Matulani Children's Garden) but is is a more difficult task in an orthodox Muslim community where there is great fear of the outside world.
Our manager Janagha will start to use proven Global Roots methodology to measure the results. How is the food we're giving the children and the tranquil, after-school moments they are having in THEIR garden affecting their lives?
We know the answer beacuse we see it in the oversight photos and videos provided every month by Janagha but we also must be able to prove it scientifically. We have done this in East Africa -- now we must accomplish this in Afghanistan.
New developments: we are happy to announce that the mullah of another town as asked to duplicate our project in his community. The mullah is studying our demands for transparency and oversight and we expect to break ground in June. A major US company is hoping to pay for the entire cost of the project so that we can continue to finance our successful garden (the Baharak Children Garden or BCG) with generous Global Giving donations.
We are about to connect American school children with children in Afghanistan by taped video sessions. We are so thrilled that the mullah of Baharak approved such video contact. The sessions will not be scripted. It is our goal to connect children without any political or religious filter so that they can throw out any incorrect or unnecessary preconceptions they might have about an unfamiliar culture.
Our Children's Gardens persist
Our garden in Baharak will continue to feed 60 children and give the children special time to spend in a garden of their own.
We are hoping that our new garden and foster care program will serve 50 orphaned children and another 200 who are very poor.
Thank you for believing in this program and we thank you for your donation!
Our current Children's Garden and Chicken egg farm has reached such a level of success in Baharak, Afghanistan that other communities want to duplicate it.
Our director Rick Montgomery has been working diligently with our local partners to create a new program in nearby Faizabad. Please see the attached photos of our thriving project in Baharak. A successful meeting in Kabul last spring between Rick, a village elder and the local manaber of our Baharak Children's Garden (BCG) led to great confidence that a new project in Faizabad will be successful even if it happens right under the nose of the Taliban.
Recently, however, we have had problems keeping in touch with our local manager due to the increased activity of the Taliban in the Badakshan region. We are monitoring the situation carefully and we are praying for the local managers of our project.
If all goes well, ground will be broken on a new Children's Garden and hen house in Faizabad by April, 2014 and our next oversight mission will take place shortly thereafter.
Now is the time to protect children in Badakshan! Nothing is more important than food. A close second to food is the emotional support our children gain from time spent in our gardens and hen houses. The food we grow supports a foster care network because good families will take in children if they have food to feed them. Thanks to our gardens and hen houses our children find loving foster homes because they do not come empty handed.
Global Roots is currently seeking major funding from several Western European governments who left Afghanistan after a very frustrating experience with NATO. We are also seeking funding from US Aid. Time will tell if large grant giving organizations can see the value in our grassroots, locally led strategy.
Thank you for your help and for sharing our belief that the best aid programs begin with the feeding of a needy child -- and that it's best to teach a child how to feed him or herself or at least empower local caregivers to get the job done in the most sustainable manner possible.
We are pleased to report that all is going well with our Children's Garden and Foster Program for orphaned children in Northern Afghanistan.
Recently, we requested accomodation at Kabul International Air Base from the US Air Force and our request was granted by the commanding general Stephen Shepro.
GR founder Rick Montgomery and senior program manager Travis Gearhart were greeted upon arrival at Kabul International Airport on April 13 by Lt. Colonel Howard Gentry and a security team. General Shepro invited the GR representatives to dine with him and his executive team on Saturday night. This dinner provided an opportunity to discuss a wide array of topics including a shared belief that more small humanitarian projects must be initiated in the earliest stages of future low-intensity conflicts.
On Sunday Montgomery and Gearhart connected with General Assaduhla of the Afghan Air Force for an impromptu inspection of a K-12 school that the General's wife had raised funds to build. During his time with General Assaduhla Montgomery explained all of the due diligence, transparency and oversight that would be required for GR to oversee the rebuilding of the general's childhood school. Montgomery had planted the seed for the project during his first mission to Afghanistan in 2010.
On Monday, Montgomery and Gearhart met with a village elder of Baharak and two of the 50 children supported by GR's Baharak Children's Garden and foster program. Important agreements were made which will result with increased care for more orphaned children.
Review of achievements:
We are very proud that we were able to travel back to Afghanistan this year to make sure our projects are moving forward smoothly and without corruption.
Our meeting with the village leader from Baharak was so successful that we are now looking to create a new children's garden and expand our foster program network to Faizabad.
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