12) Newsletter – Winter to Spring 2013 (Sent out on March 14, 2013)

This newsletter was sent to MEPO Friends via email on March 14, 2013. 

Dear MEPO Friends,

The harsh winter of Afghanistan is slowly coming to an end, and the first day of spring, March 21, is approaching. That day, Naw Ruz, is the Afghan/Iranian New Year. All children, including in the House of Flowers, love this time of year since it means new clothes, sweets, and gifts of money from adults (eidi).  All are cleaning and decorating the House of Flowers in honor of spring. MEPO will be sending extra money for the children’s new clothes, for the traditional eidi gifts of money for the children, for a Naw Ruz meal of fish, meat, nuts, and sweets, and for holiday bonuses for the staff.

In between, some pre-Naw Ruz good news: We just learned that our little Razia, all grown up now, passed her university entrance exams and has been admitted in the Education Faculty of Kabul University! (Sayed Jamaluddin College) Just to remember, Razia was about 8 years old when she and her sisters Nadia and Shukria joined the House of Flowers as our first children in 2002. Now Razia is 19, a mature and responsible high school graduate ready to head off to college. We all heartfully congratulate her for her success, and commend her teachers and the staff for the last 10 years as well as the caring donors who have made an enormous difference in Razia’s life. On the day she got the news, she brought sweets to the House to share the celebration with her family : the House of Flowers children and staff.

One of the beautiful aspects of the House of Flowers is the supportive family atmosphere for everyone, and during these past few months the children have been involved in celebrating  the events of life: a staff member’s exciting engagement announcement, a child’s birth within a staff member’s family, a remarriage, and even, sadly, a death within a staff member’s family. In all of these events, the children have been fully involved in the parties, celebrations, and ceremonies, truly and deeply involved in the processes of life from beginning to end.

The children of the House of Flowers continue to do well, making beautiful projects in their Montessori classes and enjoying the winter snow. Two new children have joined the House and have adjusted well, while two of the older boys (Munir and Hekmat) have left the House to rejoin their extended families. The staff continue their amazing and dedicated efforts, especially this winter, working  tirelessly to keep expenses to a minimum while we focused on raising funds.

It is thus our pleasant duty to thank you for your support, especially these last few months with the challenges we faced in raising funds in order to restabilize the House of Flowers. Things are looking good and are much more stable now, thanks to your outpouring of steady support. We can happily report that we have enough money now to easily get through the summer. We have set a goal of raising $18,000 by the end of June, and then we’ll be set for the rest of the year. Expenses are now nearly $6000 a month. Please pass on the word to others; we need everyone’s help in this. We are still trying to raise more membership commitments.

And so Happy Spring and Happy Naw Ruz to you, from us and from the staff and children of the House of Flowers! Please check the website and Facebook for updates and more pictures: www.mepoonline.org  There are stories, pictures and updates summarized below which can be found on the News section of the site .


Allison and Mostafa and the MEPO Staff

PS- Here’s a Naw Ruz idea for Iranian and Afghan families living in the West: In the spirit of sharing with those less fortunate than ourselves,  perhaps parents would be interested in encouraging their children to set aside part of their Naw Ruz eidi to share with the children of Afghanistan, in the same way some children save from their birthday money or Christmas money to share with others.

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Below are some highlights from the past few months. Most of these stories are described in more detail on the website under the News section and on our Facebook page, so please check them out so you can see PICTURES and get more of the story. And please pass on the website to others!

  •  The children and staff celebrated International Women’s Day in an annual day of celebration at the House of Flowers.
  •  Razia passed her exams and was accepted into Kabul University.
  •  The New Kabul Rotary Club hosted a bowling party fundraiser for the House of Flowers, which was also an exciting first bowling experience for some of the children.
  •  Lantern Projects (www.lanternprojects.org) has raised money dedicated for producing some needed classroom materials in the House of Flowers, such as small work tables and building blocks for the children.
  •  Countryside Montessori in Illinois and New World Montessori  in Wisconsin joined in the effort, raising admirable funds for the House of Flowers while also sharing the story with American children.
  •  MEPO was very happy to be able to promise the staff a well-deserved pay raise starting in March.
  •  Fatima and Qudsieh, our House of Flowers teachers, continue to develop their Montessori teaching skills, implementing extensive hands-on curricula with the children. Pictures of the classroom have been posted on Facebook.
  •  In March the House of Flowers was awarded a $10,000 grant from Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and Nove Onlus, an Italian NGO, committed to covering the House rent for 6 months. We are grateful to both organizations, as well as some anonymous donors and all those who have helped. (All are acknowledged on the website.)
  •  MEPO has also continued to do small-scale humanitarian projects in other places over the winter, such as in Bhutan and India.


11) Women are celebrated at the House of Flowers (March 8, 2013)

March 8 has always been a special day at the House of Flowers. It is International Women’s Day, and every year the children and the House organize a special celebration in honor of women. Below is the description of this year’s Women’s Day celebration, as reported by Dr. Inayatullah:

Yesterday, we celebrated the Women International Day in House of Flower. We also have invited Razia, Nadia and Shukria. They were so happy and stayed with us till to 2:00pm. First we had some gifts and the certificates for all the women staff of House of Flower including Razia. We had some speeches. I talked about the women rights and dignity of women. After me, Razia, Waheed and Small Maryam [age 5] gave some speeches. We awarded all the female staff including Razia with gifts and certificate. Then we provide some juice and dates to all children and participants. After that, I and Faheem has organized lunch party for them.

After lunch all children went and played well in the yard. They enjoyed very well.

The attention given to this topic in the House of Flowers has always been inspiring, and considering the recent news of Razia going to University, it becomes even more potent. These celebrations are an important tradition at the House of Flowers.

These pictures show the celebration, with all of the staff and children together in honor of women.


10) Razia gets accepted to university! (March 2013)

One of the most common questions we receive about the House of Flowers is: What is the future of the children? Up until now we always had to answer rather vaguely, saying that hopefully they would continue their education, or get a good job, or something…

But now we can answer: the House of Flowers children go to college! Last week we received the wonderful news that our Razia, the oldest child of the House and the first one to join us, has passed her university entrance exam and has been accepted to join the Education College at Kabul University! (Sayed Jamaluddin College)

This is HUGELY significant, both for Razia and for the House of Flowers. She is setting an incredible example and inspiring the others. She is showing that her education was strong and successful. And she is making her own future.

It is hard to find the words express how proud we are of her, as we remember back to when she joined the House of Flowers as a scruffy 9 year old who had been taking care of her younger sisters. She didn’t even know the whole alphabet, yet was so hungry to learn that within 3 months she was in 3rd grade in school. Over the years she worked incredibly hard, and was everyone’s older sister at the House, not just the sister of Nadia and Shukria.

Now she is 19 years old, mature, strong, focused, responsible, confident. And she’s going to college!!!

These pictures are of Razia in 2002 when she first joined us,  and in 2012, a few months before she was accepted at university. For more pictures of Razia over the years, click here.

We will be exploring ways to find support for her education. And following in her footsteps will be her sister Nadia, and the boys Waheed and Basir who are all in 11th grade this year. . So next year we will hopefully have four children in college, and we will be searching for support for them. So if you are interested, please let us know!