Apr 21, 2016

Kids 4 Afghan Kids Report, Spring 2016

Erica and Allie discussing Afghan culture in 2009
Erica and Allie discussing Afghan culture in 2009

It is again time for us to thank you for your generous donation to Kids 4 Afghan Kids.  We know that many of you have not only donated through GlobalGiving, but have given time and money in person or are the parents (and chauffeurs) of our many student volunteers. 

We have some great news to report!  After the success of K4AK’s first project, many villages and the government of Afghanistan have begged K4AK to replicate its success in another village.  Kids 4 Afghan Kids thus has accepted the donation of land in northern Afghanistan to start a new project.  We envision several schools and a clinic, much like our original project in southwestern Afghanistan.  Even better, a donor has committed to build the clinic and the clinic’s foundation stone has already been laid.  We are on the way to repeating the success of the first project!

The second village also will provide a measure of security for the children in the original project.  The two villages have agreed that in the event of war or other violence, the endangered children of one village will be evacuated to, and cared for by, the other village.  

This is an exciting time.  We not only are beginning a new project and a seeing a unique friendship develop between two villages, but other schools in the US are asking to start K4AK chapters and help raise money. 

It is also bittersweet for us, Allie and Erica, as we are now high school seniors in the process of making final college decisions.  We thus are reminded that although we will always be part of K4AK, we may not be able to be as personally involved as we have been for the past nine years.

K4AK volunteer and high school student, Brian, has written the previous GlobalGiving updates.  He’s done a great job of explaining how much your donations help the children of Afghanistan.  However, we’d like to take this opportunity to explain how much K4AK has meant to us.

We met Mrs. N, and each other, when we joined Northville’s gifted student program at Amerman Elementary School.  Mrs. N was our third grade teacher.  We were fascinated by her stories of Afghanistan and wanted to learn more and do more to help.  Mrs. N asked us and another friend to help her give presentations on the life of Afghan children to various civic groups.  By middle school, we even did a few presentations without her and represented Afghanistan at the school district’s annual cultural festival. 

Because of Mrs. N, we had an understanding of the Middle East and the impact of landmines and war, along with a considerable curiosity about the world,  that few elementary schoolers possess.   Of course, our understanding of Afghan life, history and political issues has deepened as we’ve gotten older.  Erica plans to take classes in Middle Eastern studies in college.

K4AK also has helped increase our self-confidence.  We began giving presentations before we were old enough to be frightened of public speaking.  Neither of us now fears either speaking or answering audience questions.  We’ve worn traditional Afghan clothing and eaten traditional food.  Together we’ve “pounded the pavement,” knocked on doors and written business letters to solicit hundreds of silent auction donations.  We’ve run the annual hoedown fundraiser.  Each of us has written thank you letters, worked on websites and thought about marketing strategies.  One or both of us have designed posters, conducted bottle drives,  baked thousands of cake pops to sell and run the school district’s happy gram program.  These are all life skills we will carry with us in the future.  We think we would have been more two dimensional had we not been part of K4AK.

We know we leave K4AK in good hands with the younger volunteers.  We want to thank them for the opportunity to work and laugh with them.  We will continue to stay involved in K4AK on our college breaks, and will start Circle of Women[1] chapters in college so we can continue to raise money for girls’ education worldwide, including K4AK’s new northern project . 

We also want to thank Mrs. N for giving us the opportunity to learn so much.  We are honored to have witnessed first-hand her courage, optimism, rock solid determination and perseverance. 

We have developed a huge respect for the people of “our” village who face incredible problems in war torn Afghanistan and yet, have supported the K4AK schools with their very scares recourses, volunteer labor, cheerfulness and hope.  We appreciate the amazing courage it takes them to risk their own safety in order to support girls’ education. 

Most importantly, we’d like to thank you, our donors, for making it all possible.  Thank you for helping us learn and grow.  It is because of you and K4AK, that we will be life-long volunteers and child advocates. 

Thank you, too, for helping to provide for the impoverished children in Afghanistan, and helping to ensure that girls there get an education.  Even when large donors pay for a clinic, school or other building, your donations provide the necessary operating funds and allow us to purchase necessary supplies such as desks, books, medicine and heating oil. 

Thank you.  We couldn’t do any of it without you.

 

 Allie and Erica

 P.S. We have attached a copy of this letter with pictures

 

[1]  Circle of Women was started in 1998 by several Harvard University students who had heard Mrs. N speak to their high school classes.  It now has chapters on 12 college campuses and has built classrooms in seven countries, including K4AK’s girls’ high school.


Attachments:
Jan 19, 2016

Kids 4 Afghan Kids Report, Winter 2016

Kids4AfghanKids
9936 Hambleton Livonia, MI 48150
www.kids4afghankids.org

Our Dearest Friends,

     We simply cannot believe it is already the end of 2015! It seems like 2015 was on fast forward, and we zoomed right through it… Even so, we have accomplished so much! Primarily, through your support, we have been added to Global Giving’s website and are continuing to raise money there. This year alone, we raised more than $6,000 just from Global Giving! You can visit out page with this link: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/help-support-kids-4-afghan-kids-schools/.

     We have also participated in another online fundraiser. This one is called GoodShop, and its plan is simple and effective. People simply create an account, and shop online through GoodShop. For every 25 dollars spent, GoodShop will donate 10 dollars to the shopper’s chosen charity.  You are saving on gas by shopping online and supporting a wonderful cause at the same time!

     Another thing we wanted to share with you is our original name, MASHA. MASHA stands for Multiethnic Afghan Schools and Humanitarian Assistance. Our Global Giving account has MASHA as its project name, and we want to share with you the origins of its name. The word “masha” means “phoenix” in Pashto, one of two official Afghanistan languages. We chose phoenix specifically, because back when we were founded in 1998, the Taliban’s power in Afghanistan was at its highest, resulting in ubiquitous violence and turmoil. Our organization sought to shed light during the darkest night, and a phoenix rises from ashes, reborn, into a splendid symbol of hope and the bright future.

     It is truly the season of giving, and Amazon’s brilliant charity program, Amazon Smile, donates 0.5% of the cost of participating items to a charity of your choice the entire year! All you have to do is log into Amazon, go to Amazon Smile, and search for “Masha Inc.” located in Livonia, Michigan.  Once you select Masha Inc, Amazon will donate 0.5% of your total bill to K4AK. Thank you for your continued support!

     Another important announcement is our upcoming Empty Bowls charity event sometime in March of 2016. We will post the finalized date on our website. This event is one of the most impactful activities we run. Every family arrives to eat a meager dinner meal that simulates what our children eat in Afghanistan. The meal consists of a simple soup and bread, which is insignificant compared to the average American dinner. Many Afghan children go to bed hungry. To remind every attendant of the nutritional uncertainties children everywhere in the world face, we sell handmade ceramic bowls to remember all the empty bowls around the world. Please attend this event and continue to fund meals for the children so they do not go to sleep starving.

     We recently had our Alternate Christmas Fair, where we sold chocolate covered snacks and Afghan embroidered shirts and scarves. From this event we raised about $720. In September, we held our Northville Victorian Festival booth, where we sold drinks and snacks, and raised another $600.  Northville High School volunteers also helped handicrafters load and unload their equipment and sale items during Northville Michigan's fall and winter Handcrafter Art and Craft Shows.  The students then donated their tips - more than $800 - to K4AK.  During the Victorian Festival weekend was the Tour de Ville. Because the event sponsored numerous different charities, we have not received word about how much we will receive. Lastly, we have decided to move our traditional fall Hoedown to sometime in spring because we were very busy with all the end-of-year events this year.

     This school year, after final testing, we had 98 boys graduate high school! Eight boys who graduated this year will go to Kabul University next year if we can get our dorm house ready. Speaking of colleges, Afghanistan currently does not have any community colleges. This means the other graduates either must find a college outside Afghanistan, or compete for spots in Afghanistan’s larger urban universities. We would like to change that by building a community college to meet the needs of the 2 million people living in the Wardak, Logar and Ghazni provinces of Afghanistan. This community college will have three separate two story building on campus, and each level of each building will be devoted a different subject. Compared to American community colleges, this will be very small, but it is a good first step that we hope will eventually flourish into a large and prestigious college. If you would like to help with this project, please let us know. It is a major capital fundraising venture. It is important to continue our current work and raise additional funds for the community college.

     Another addition to the village, based on our vision and mission, is a literacy center for our students. This literacy center will have books, educational films, a projector, and a room with a whiteboard. We will also plan to have a meeting room with a large table for community discussions. Because the literacy center will take time and money, we project it will be completed in the next 10 years and will require around $90,000. Although American students most likely take these supplies for granted, having this literacy center would benefit everyone, child and adult.

     School life in Afghanistan still goes on as usual. Our students attend classes six days every week with Friday off. The teachers in Afghanistan receive around $85 each month, whereas United States minimum wage equates to $870 per month, over ten times the Afghan teachers’ salaries. Luckily, Afghanistan’s government occasionally provides $30 for each of the teachers’ salaries. Household lives in Afghanistan vary drastically compared to the United States. The girls help mix a sturdy mud-like concrete to patch the traditional houses, and the boys help with family gardens, which include small harvests of leafy greens. The village has running water from a deep well, but still lacks electricity. The village has a second farm about four hours away by car, where we grow more temperate crops, such as grapes, pomegranates, and figs. The orphans tend to the gardens at the project after school hours.

     Lastly, we hope to build a satellite campus four hours north of the current village. This campus will allow our project to help more people and, more importantly, will allow increased flexibility. We have had many years of local peace, however, we need to prepare for emergencies. If endangered, we would evacuate all the students and teachers to the other campus. We decided we need this second campus after the events of the earthquake that shattered northwestern Afghanistan in October 2015. The earthquake ranked 7.7 on the Richter scale, and killed at least 300 people. Luckily, our village was 300 miles away from the epicenter, and no one was hurt. Unfortunately, the earthquake weakened the structural integrity of buildings and after assessing the damages, we had to repair and replace damaged walls.

     Another reason for us to get a second location is to maintain the safety of our girls. Due to unrest this year we closed our girls’ high school early. Fortunately our village elders value the safety and security of our students and through many negotiations secured the reopening of the girls’ high school when the next school year begins in March. One of our goals is to nurture acceptance in the world. Thank you for supporting us in our goal to make the world a better place not only for our children in Afghanistan but everyone! 

Thank you for all you do to bring hope to children!

Brian

High School Student Ambassador
Kids 4 Afghan Kids
www.kids4afghankids.org

December 2015

P.S. A full color copy of this letter, along with color photos of the project is attached.

Links:


Attachments:
Oct 20, 2015

Kids 4 Afghan Kids Report, Fall 2015

Kids 4 Afghan Kids
9936 Hambleton
Livonia, MI 48150

www.kids4afghankids. org

Dear Friends,

Thanks to your help, we earned a permanent spot on Global Giving by raising more than $5,000 in two weeks in September. Many thanks for your generous contribution toward that goal and toward funding the education of children in Afghanistan.

Many plans are currently being developed, like the future saffron garden. Saffron is a beautiful crimson red herb with an exotic taste. It is one of the most expensive spices in the world and is in high demand. The best part is the fact that Afghanistan’s climate near the village is perfect for growing saffron. We plan to establish a garden soon, which will have 1000 saffron plants, at a cost of three dollars per bulb.

Another important project is the building of a hospital. Ground has been cleared for its construction. More news will come as construction progresses. Currently a dentist visits twice weekly, and we have a full time nurse in our clinic.

Here in Northville, we earned $600 selling drinks at the Victorian Festival. The Northville Rotary Club will donate some of the proceeds of its Tour de Northville fundraiser, our own bike marathon. Northville High School volunteers helped Handicrafters’ Fair artists carry items to and from their cars. Thanks to that hard work, K4AK earned more than $600 in tips. We also got a generous donation from Northville’s American Association of University Women. Thank you everyone!

Education is one of the main tenets of the Kids 4 Afghan Kids program, which is why we are pleased to announce that 149 students graduated last year. These students started school mostly illiterate, and some walked for four hours each day just to attend school. We are also working to have 16 graduates be able to attend Kabul University. Most of the other graduates will go to Iran to work in masonry, and some will stay in the village. Unfortunately, the graduates are forced to go to Iran because the road to Kabul is heavily land-mined and dangerous. In other news, we are working on providing the students with laptops through a grant.


The 1500 fruit and nut trees are doing well. Grapes, apples, pomegranates, almonds, apricots and greens are grown during the spring and summer seasons. All of these are harvested and eaten by the villagers. There is even a farm, which has a flock of sheep, three cows and three horses.


School looks similar to what we have here: math, social studies, science, and the two official languages (Dari and Pashto) are taught. However, there are no electives or extra-curriculars, such as art and music. That would be nice to change. We are working on gathering the funds necessary to purchase bicycles to make the teachers’ commute easier.


We have come so far from our humble beginnings of 165 students 15 years ago to our current number, 2400 students. Our project has grown to touch the lives of so many people, and it is all thanks to your continuous support. Thanks from all the students and villagers for all the happiness and futures you provide!


Brian,
High School Student Volunteer

PS - If you'd like to see picture of the project and a few of the children you've helped, see the attachment.

Links:


Attachments:
 
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