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Growing Up, Part 2: Razia and Maryam

We continue our series on the children of the House who are now adults with two successful and strong girls:

Razia and her two younger sisters were the first children of the House of Flowers, arriving in 2002. As such, Razia always held a special role as everyone’s older sister. She was 9 at the time, and had only gone to school for one year. She craved to learn, and within 3 months had mastered reading under the tutelage of the House of Flowers teacher Zarlasht, and was quickly on her way to being a studious and serious student. The House of Flowers was her home for 10 years, she and her sisters growing up there together along with dozens of House ‘siblings’. After finishing high school and beginning to support her father,  Razia attended university. Upon completing 2 years in the education department, we were thrilled that Razia became an assistant teacher at the House of Flowers. She understands exactly how the House works, and what values are treasured there. As a child, she was loved for her gentle nature, and admired for her artistry and poetry. And now she continues to share these attributes with the young children of the House, and works with the women who helped raise her.

Maryam , Razia’s close friend, was about 4-5 when she came with her brother Waheed. Maryam was known for her chubby cheeks and her lisp and cute semi-stutter as a little girl. She matured gracefully, becoming a caring and serene young girl. She, like all the children, studied hard, and it paid off: after finishing high school she was admitted into midwifery school, and MEPO has been helping her with her expenses, offering her a scholarship even after having left the House in her teenage years. She is part of the family. AND, she is now engaged to Basir, a boy who also spent some years in the House of Flowers and is working for an NGO while studying in university. Her future is bright, as she prepares to serve Afghan women and children.

 

Growing Up, Part 1 : Hayat and Waheed

“What happens when the children grow up and leave the House?” 

The House of Flowers children in 2004.

We’d like to share with you a series of stories and pictures of some of the children who grew up in the House and are now young adults, making their way in the world. Many of the children in the picture above keep in touch with the teachers, staff and other children of the House of Flowers- their family- through phone calls, visits, and Facebook.

They often reflect back on their childhood at the House of Flowers, and get together with each other, even after being out of the House for several years. They are each others’ siblings. We are proud to say that they are working, studying, and contributing positively to their society. Here are two of them.

Hayat  came to the House in 2004 around age 7-8 and stayed until his late teens. He had a charming personality-cheerful, playful and always kind, and flashed a brilliant smile. In a recent Facebook post he wrote, “At the House of Flowers I learned about the world, and now I like to see all around the world!” So after finishing school, Hayat immigrated to Turkey and is now working in Istanbul.

(Click on a picture to get an enlarged view.)

Waheed  came to the House with his younger sister Maryam in 2002. She was about 5 and he was about 7. He was the consummate caring older brother, first to Maryam, and then as he grew older, to others in the House. He was always very responsible and studied hard. As a teenager, he was the first child of the House to go out and get a job, working at a local office while also taking computer classes. Today he is working as a house inspector in Kabul, and hopes to get married soon.

 

 

Winter 2019 – Daily Life in the House

It is nearly spring, and the national holiday of Naw Ruz (New Year) on March 21 is approaching in Afghanistan. It is a time to celebrate with friends and family, new clothes, special cookies and feasts, and gifts. And in honor of Naw Ruz, it’s the perfect time to give news and updates about the House of Flowers.

Right now there are 28 children in the House, 20 boys and 8 girls. Over the winter they have played in the snow, studied, created art, and done all the things that children do, under the care of our terrific staff.

Below are some projects the children have engaged with. Please click on a picture to enlarge it and see the children’s faces!

Making a timeline of living creatures:

…doing fingerprint art:

…exercising and playing:

These pictures remind us that the children of the House are living fun, safe, warm, enriched lives. We couldn’t do it without the support of all of their friends around the world!

 

July 2018 – The Cycle of Life at the House

A few months back we wrote you a brief update about the House of Flowers. Today we have additional news about some life milestones occurring within the House, encompassing both ends of the cycle of life:

There once were two brothers, Ashraf and Hekmat. They were smiley and sweet boys whose father had died and whose mother was destitute. They were brought to the House and grew up there. In their late teens, after about 8 years in the House, they moved back with their mother and began working and continued studying. Ashraf, the older one, was 23 by now. After finishing high school he began working as a mechanic and a driver for Nestle Company, and enjoyed body building.

Ashraf
HoF staff Fatima (red shawl) and Nik Mohammad (with his arm around Hekmat) visiting  Hekmat and his mother

In July of 2018 we received the awful news that Ashraf had been killed in a motorcycle accident while on his way to work. The staff and children of the House, as well as ourselves, have been devastated by this loss of one of our family members. It is also a huge loss to Afghanistan, the loss of a kind, caring, and hard-working young man at a time when such people are so desperately needed in Afghanistan. We were very proud of him and what he was doing with his life.

The teachers Fatima and Razia along with Nik Mohammad went to visit Ashraf’s mother and pay their respects. They then went to see Hekmat at his workplace. They visited again a week later to check in on Hekmat and his mother and offer support. Hekmat, the younger brother, continues to work as a mechanic while studying pharmacy at night school.

Then in the midst of this, we received more news, this time about Shukria. We opened the email and were thrilled to see a picture of Shukria – with her beautiful new baby boy! Shukria had entered the House at age 2 ½ and grew up there with her sisters Nadia and Razia, who both went on to university. (Razia is now a teacher at the House of Flowers.)

Mohammad Yaser Jan, Shukria’s son born July 2018

Shukria, who was always a charming, adorable, and very clever girl in the House,  has grown up and is now the new mother of her son Mohammad Yaser Jan. (Maybe teacher Fatima, who essentially helped raise Shukria, feels like a proud grandmother!) Shukria has asked that her picture not be posted, but this is a picture of her son in her arms.

Coming Full Circle  Thus the House of Flowers continues to be the locus of all aspects of life for these Afghan children and their families. It is where they grow up, learn, love, gain family, receive support, and contribute to their society while sharing the ups and downs of life, even after their time living in the House. All of our lives are linked inextricably to theirs. We mourn and celebrate together.

Making a cup telephone

 

 

Playing telephone

March 2018 – New Children, New Website, New Needs

Happy New Year! March 22 was the New Year in Afghanistan, a time of celebration, and the House of Flowers is no exception. It thrives on! And now, with the release of our new and revamped website in this new year, we are happy to also begin an important fundraising campaign.

Our long-time donors, Canadian Women for Women of Afghanistan, will be unable to give us the level of support they have been, and thus we have to raise more in order to keep the House operating smoothly. The House staff has, in response, tightened the budget. They offered to reduce their salaries as well, but we insisted that they keep their salaries.  Our goal is to raise $50,000 by the summer. Please see the 2018 budget here.

In the meantime, the House welcomes more children, including little Ada in the pictures here, enjoying some attention from her new big brothers at the House.  And the older children have started school again after the new year holiday, attending their neighborhood school. In the afternoons they do extra activities with their teachers Fatima, Basira and Razia (our teacher who in fact grew up in the House herself).

So, life continues joyously and happily in the House of Flowers, and we hope that more and more people will be involved in supporting these children who have little family and have suffered tragedy, all of whom are being cared for by the staff.

 

December 2017 – Holiday Greetings

 Dear Friends of MEPO and the House of Flowers, 

The Children of the House of Flowers (HoF) in Kabul have had another safe and successful year thanks to the dedicated teachers, the staff on the ground, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan who has been a tremendously dedicated donor and partner on the ground, and generous donors such as yourself. As of today, 26 children are thriving in the House of Flowers, learning while staying warm and safe from the rough Kabul winter. Despite the number of security incidents in Kabul through the year, all is well at the House of Flowers and we celebrate with you by sharing some pictures below.

This October the HoF entered its 16th year of operation helping orphans and vulnerable children in Afghanistan. Although it has been a small-scale Montessori-inspired project, diligence has been laid in the quality of education, nutrition and attention each girl and boy receives. The proof of this diligence are the teens who continue to graduate from the HoF and move on by entering universities, getting jobs and developing their adult lives. Our goal for them has always been that they grow up to be balanced, compassionate and contributing members of their society.

We are truly thankful to the wonderful teachers and staff who have made a warm and safe home/school for these traumatized children in the last decade and half. We are also thankful to the ongoing donors who have made this relief for the children sustainable.

Let us all hold hands and wish Afghanistan a more peaceful year in 2018, for the sake of the children.

Warmly,

Mostafa and Allison 

(Dec. 24, 2017         White Salmon, Washington State)

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February 2017 – Winter Newsletter Update

Please click here: House of Flowers Winter Newsletter February 2017 – to read our latest newsletter! Lots of good things going on at the House of Flowers…Stay tuned, more things are coming!

-A new manager at the House of Flowers – the first woman manager!

-A Transition Fund for older children as they transition out of the House of Flowers and enter young adult life…

-MEPO and HEWAD provides support and aid for needy people suffering in the snow in Kabul…

Newsletter update – September 2016

It’s been a while since we’ve posted, but maybe that’s a sign that things are stable and as normal as they can be in Kabul…new children Jan 2016 (3) (Medium)

Newsletter  House of Flowers Summer Newsletter September 2016

All is well! Our newsletter here gives details about the benchmarks the children are passing through and has pictures too – read about who is studying nursing, and who just got engaged! House of Flowers Summer Newsletter September 2016

   

Changesplayground pics feb 2016 (5) (Medium)    

We’ve had some important changes that’s the staff has had to adjust to, however. In the spring, Fahim, our manager/leader/adopted uncle of the House, decided he was going to move on to a higher position in HEWAD (our partner organization.) The staff and children were very sorry to see him go – he’s been there from the beginning and was instrumental in making the House what it is today – but the people of Afghanistan are used to change. Fahim wrote a touching letter, saying that he will always be there for the House and the children. We know that he will always hold a special place in their lives.

Fahim was replaced by Rafiullah Raza who now serves as manager of the House. The teachers have 20160531_120107_resizedtrained him in Montessori principles and he is now taking care of the logistics and practical details of running the House. Unfortunately, this has also included moving to a new house twice in 6 months. The rental market in Kabul is brutal, with renters having no rights. So when a landlord doubles the rent, we must move on.

In August, the staff was able to find a new house for the same rent, and much closer to the children’s schools, so it turned out to be a blessing. children school result saug 2016 (3) (Medium)

Security

The summer of attacks in Kabul have been very disturbing, to say the least, but our staff and the children have all been safe. We are sorry to report that one staff member of HEWAD, our partner organization, was killed in one bomb attack, and we were all saddened by this news that brought it closer to home for everyone.

The Children

A number of new children have joined the House and are thriving. They are so excited to be learning. We see consistently that once children settle in to the safe and nurturing environment of the House, they exhibit a deep craving to learn and study. Our teachers feed that need richly, with the Montessori materials and enriching activities and a vibrant environment.

We hope you enjoy the newsletter! House of Flowers Summer Newsletter September 2016basira birthday party aug 2016 (11)

Holiday Newsletter and Update (December 2015)

To download the holiday newsletter, with brief updates about the year and the work of MEPO, click on the link: House of Flowers and MEPO Newsletter – Dec 2015

The security situation in Afghanistan worsening, yet the House of Flowers staff continues to dedicate themselves to the children and giving them a safe and healthy childhood. The sacrifices are substantial. In the face of the security challenges they face each day, it becomes more and more clear that they all need our support more than ever.

These children are the literal future of Afghanistan, and seeing the successful paths that the ‘alumni’ of the House of Flowers have followed, we can be confident that their holistic experiences at the House of Flowers have helped them develop resilience, confidence, well-roundedness, basic life skills, and compassion. They also now have a stable loving community in their lives with their relationships in the House of Flowers.

We wish you all wonderful holidays, and thank you as always for your ongoing support.

Allison and Mostafa of MEPO  

December 23, 2015

 

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Information about the Children, Past and Present (December 2015)

Recently we have worked on compiling a comprehensive list of the House of Flowers children, past and present. This document contains information about the stories and lives of the children, their ages, years in the House, etc, and where they have gone or what they’re doing after having left the House.

It shows that over the years, the House has provided its unique style of care, compassion, education and inner growth to over 140 children. And the work continues.

To read the report, click on this link: Children info past and present – Dec. 2015

 

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