On Saturday 22nd October 2005 we’ll have a great night from 8pm at
THE COVE SPORTS CLUB
325A Eastern Valley Way
We’ll have a few rounds of amusing and amazing trivia, and our DJ will provide the music and entertainment for dancing. Kerry and the staff at the club will be there to feed us with fabulous finger food, and drinks will be available at the bar.
This year we will make the world a better place by providing a teacher for the children at the Hope House orphanage in Kabul, Afghanistan.
It’s really tough being a widow or an orphan, especially in Afghanistan, but Mahboba’s Promise, based in Sydney, is there to help. The vision of one Australian woman, Mahboba Rawi, a former refugee from Afghanistan herself, Mahboba’s Promise, is a non-profit organisation. It builds and runs orphanages, schools and hospitals and helps to feed, clothe and educate hundreds of Afghan widows and orphans. The marvellous work of Mahboba's Promise brings hope to a people ravaged by war.
This year we can make our mark by helping with it. Please read the article by Gill Shaddick, who visited Afghanistan with Mahboba earlier this year.
We welcome tables of contestants, or you can make up or join a table on the night. The cost is $24 per person. Please indicate numbers (for catering purposes) by phoning
Mike Hartnell on 0419 717382
or email to email@example.com
A new teacher for Hope House Orphanage!
At Hope House, Mahboba’s Promise has 10 widows and about 40 orphans. In Afghanistan, an orphan is someone who has no father. Without a father in Afghanistan you have no one to provide or protect you. The widows all have children or grandchildren with them and some of the orphans are real orphans in the Australian sense of the word and have no father or mother.
The women and children are from all different parts of Afghanistan. There is an old widow from Turkistan who does not even speak the same language as the others and her very bright granddaughter acts as translator. Another widow had to flee Afghanistan as her husband worked for the communist Government and they went to Iran. He became sick and tried to return home a year ago but died on the way. Many have lost their husbands in the fighting that has wracked Afghanistan for the last 25 years. Some were fighters and others innocent bystanders. Although your husband is just as dead no matter who killed him - the Russians, the Americans, the Taliban, freedom fighters or disease - each story is different and individual. Each person is different and individual – some repeating the suffering over and over again in story and even in songs, others want to move ahead and make a new life. In other words, the widows are not a cohesive group and when they first come into the Centre, they prefer to stick to themselves.
When Sidiq, Mahboba’s brother arrived to take over the management of all the Mahboba’s Promise work in Afghanistan and set up his office at Hope House, he was overwhelmed with compassion for these troubled women. He also realised that they needed to come together. At that time all the widows were living in their rooms, keeping their children by them, not mixing and becoming quite territorial.
Sidiq established rosters for cooking duties. He designated one room as a dining room so that everybody ate together. This made a huge difference for the children. Now, no matter which part of Afghanistan they were from, or what background, there was an opportunity for friendships to evolve naturally. The children needed that because they too have had their own trauma and sometimes a best friend is even better than a traumatized mother to talk things out with.
Siddiq encouraged the widows to come to the office in the evening when the work was done to sort out disputes and work out solutions in a cooperative atmosphere. At first he said everyone was fighting and there was never enough time to hear about all the arguments and disputes. However, once they realised that they did have a voice and learnt to start working out ways of cooperating, the need for the evening meetings began to reduce and now he only needs to have a meeting once a week.
Mahboba says you can tell that Hope House is a much newer orphanage than Mahboba’s other orphanage - Hazrat Ali Home. At Hazrat Ali, the children are settled, there is less fighting and their marks at school are very good. Just a couple of years have made all the difference.
The school age children at Hope House are all going to the local Government School. Because many of them have never had the opportunity to go to school, they can be teenagers and yet have to sit in Class 1 with 5 year olds. However, because they have each other, even although they don’t like it, they try hard, because they know that education is important. However, it is difficult for the teacher too to teach basic skills to children of such vastly different ages.
Despite the culture which encourages giving to widows and orphans, the Hope House children still suffer the stigma of being orphans. They are sometimes teased at school. Siddiq tells them they don’t even need to tell people their background, their background is not what they are, they are unique and special individuals. He makes sure that they are well dressed and that they have the pens, pencils and notebooks they need. He wants to reduce the embarrassment they feel in any way he can. He wants Mahboba’s Promise children to be confident and have every opportunity he can give them.
The standard of the public school is not very good. Teachers come and go and battle with the enormity of teaching large disparate classes with very few teaching aids and little training.
Many of the kids at Hope House are very bright. They are survivors – often they have lived by their wits and been supporters of their families. Children as young as 3 and 4 are not uncommon working in the streets selling chewing gum, plastic bags and water. They may not be educated but they can certainly count! (When I was in Kabul and reading the short history of one of the widows on our sponsor program, it said her son has supported her and her baby by working on the streets picking up bits of metal. I looked at the tiny boy beside her and asked where the older son was. There was no older boy; this little boy had been the supporter of his family.)
At Hope House there is a volunteer teacher who comes in to give English classes and computer classes. We want to bring in another teacher full time who will help in all subjects and can assist the to children catch up quickly at school so they can move up a class and sit and socialise with children of their own ages. Also to give extra help to anyone having difficulties at school and generally to make sure the children have the chance of a better education. These children will have nothing to rely on apart from their education, so it is very important for them.
We have three teenage girls at the orphanage and in each case, extended family members or friends are already approaching Hope House with proposals of marriage. The girls do not want to get married, they want to go on and study. If this is what they want to do, we need to be able to give them the additional help so they will be able to get into tertiary education and if they are doing well at school, then their relatives will take it more seriously and leave them alone.
Mahboba also wants the teacher to help the widows. To teach them manners, to help them relax and move on from their survival mentality. Some of these women have had to beg, steal and hoard morsels of food to keep their children alive through terrible times, now they are at Hope House, but they are still nervous as they know that it is a very fine balance. If the funds don’t come from Australia, they will be thrown back into the streets. If they can feel secure and confident, they will also be in a better position to make better choices about their futures.
PO Box 6234
North Ryde 2113