The Story of the Staff That Refused to Give Up…
The cost of living in Kabul is shockingly high, approximating costs on the East Coast of the US. Prices of essential goods such as food and fuel continue to rise, nearly doubling in recent years, causing the House of Flowers budget to balloon. It has never been easy to keep up, but somehow for 13 years it has worked.
Expenses when we began… in 2002:
Rent was $300 a month, and the highest paid staff member made only $100 a month. For food, medical, clothing and energy costs, the average expenses for the House of Flowers were around $1400 per month. The total monthly budget was only about $2500.
Now fifteen years later… 2017…
As we work to stabilize the finances of the House, it enables us to concentrate on deepening the program of the House of Flowers and be able to offer more to the children and the community. Canadian Women for Women of Afghanistan is again providing operating cost support for the House of Flowers for 2017, and is offering strong support in streamlining systems and logistics in the House.
The Staff That Wouldn’t Quit
In April of 2015 our financial situation reached a crisis when the House was robbed at gunpoint. Everyone was ok, but about $12,000 cash was stolen. At this point, the future of the House was at grave risk due to the declining donations combined with this large cash loss as well as some loans that had been used to cover funding transfer gaps. We at MEPO had to seriously consider whether the House could remain open. There was simply no money left.
However, when we broached the topic of closure with the House staff, we were struck by the vehemence of their response: they were absolutely adamant that the House must stay open, for the sake of the children. They revised the budget, and promised to restructure how cash was dealt with as well as develop security protocols. They promised to find a house for cheaper rent. They even proposed their own pay cuts.
In other words, we were ready to admit that the end was near – but the staff simply would not let us give up.
We shared this with donors, and people responded. They too said that the House of Flowers was too special to let fail. Within one month, we had enough generous pledges that we felt comfortable committing to the next year at the House of Flowers. Then in January 2016, the Canadian Women for Women of Afghanistan group assumed the budget for operating costs, the House found a better house to live in, and life began to stabilize in the House.
This coming year, 2017, the monthly budget will come to nearly $80,000, which will include all food and care expenses for up to 30 children, staff salaries, energy and communication costs, rent, and taxes.
Monthly House of Flowers Budget
|Living expenses (food, medical, energy, communication, clothing, taxes, school supplies, house maintenance and cleaning)||
|Salaries (9 staff : 2 teachers, 1 computer teacher, 1 manager, 3 cleaning/cooking staff, 3 guards )||
What about the future?
The House of Flowers budget is reasonable, and yet the staff do all they can to keep expenses low while still meeting the children’s needs. We are committed to maintaining the highest standards of care and education. It is important to us to maintain this support to the children of the House of Flowers as well as make sure that the staff receive a living wage and adequate compensation for their great dedication.
We need everyone’s help. If we all chip in, we can do more to support the work of the staff in Kabul and expand what we can offer the children. They deserve it, as do the children.
Become a member and make a monthly commitment, or donate now!
Please note: We are fully committed to running MEPO as a volunteer organization. Zero management costs are incurred, and we even avoid wiring money when possible in order to prevent bank charges. All donations go straight to the House of Flowers, where the staff tracks expenses and submits semi-monthly reports to us via email.