Do you remember the thrill of your first visit to an amusement park? Now the children of the House of Flowers will also have such memories, thanks to the efforts of the staff who organized an afternoon outing last week to Paghman near Kabul. The amusement park is near a beautiful lake, and the whole House took a picnic lunch to enjoy after riding the ferris wheel, the giant swinging thing, and some spinning things – the standard exciting fare of amusement parks around the world.
In the pictures below you will see the various joyful stages and adventures on their trip. Enjoy! I’m sure the children did!
On March 1 we sent out our winter newsletter. Please find it at the link below. It is full of good news about the children and some who came back to visit, our new teacher Basira, and the beautiful new house the children are now staying in.
All is well at the House of Flowers! It’s been a peaceful past few months with some of the usual changes that life brings:
Winter was bearable, with the children staying warm and enjoying some holiday time. During that time, one of our girls, Farah Haz, came down with acute appendicitis and had to get her appendix taken out, but she is now fine.
One bit of bittersweet news is that at the end of January, Qudsieh, a teacher of the older children at the House for the last 8 years, gave her notice to the House since she had decided to move to Germany with her family. This is a huge loss for us and also for Afghanistan, since she was one of the few adults in the country who know the Montessori principles that we employ in the House. She was very dedicated, talented, and hard working. We wish her the best in her future endeavors, and hope that she will stay in touch and continue to give her good energy to the future of Afghanistan in new ways perhaps.
At the same time, the staff found a new house to move to. The old house was getting very run down and needed constant repairs and the landlord was raising the rent. The new house is just one kilometer away, is much newer, more reasonably priced, and is next to a big field where the children can play soccer and cricket. It’s a good move! A huge undertaking by the staff, but well-worth it.
Our friend Reza Mohammadi works in Kabul and visits the House regularly. Recently he was there when several boys who had grown up at the House of Flowers came to visit. They are now either working or are in school, and it’s just incredible to see them as grown young men.
It’s been a bit of a quiet spell, with ‘life as usual’ at the House of Flowers: no big news, which means life is a happy normal! Around the House, Afghan politics and security issues continue to swirl, but otherwise, inside the walls of the House of Flowers, all is well.
We just received an enormous download of wonderful pictures from the House – 118 to be exact! It’s not possible to put them all on the website, but here are a bunch of them, and by seeing them all together you can get a good feel for the neat things that the children in the House are doing during their days: shopping for new shoes, learning English, and doing a lot of Montessori education activities in math, geography, language and more.
Thank you to all of you for making this continue to happen for the children of Kabul…
The election is over and life goes on in Afghanistan, especially at the House of Flowers. The last months have been stable in the way that makes it possible to say that nothing remarkable has happened, and life is just about as normal as it can be! The children play, go to school, learn, do art, entertain visitors…
Eight new girls joined the House in the last two months. We are very happy to be able to know that more girls are with us, settling in to the safe and enriching environment of the House of Flowers.
In the meantime, five of the older children, who have been with us for years, graduated high school and took their university exams: Waheed, Noorullah, Nadia, Zahir Shah and Gul Mohammad. The significance of this is huge: that these children who came from such difficult backgrounds have graduated from high school! We are very very proud of them.
We are grateful to the many people around the world who have been offering support in so many ways recently:
-Robin Fasano and Colin Baker, working in Kabul, delivered a wonderful load of clothes and toys to the children, and have also arranged for a new washer and dryer.
-Paola Valitutti and Susanna Fioretti joined forces in Italy for an annual House of Flowers fundraiser in Salerno, raising over 2500 Eu.
-Colette Fischer in Colorado recently wrote a book called Lovelight Magic, inspired by the Montessori education of her children, and is donating some of the proceeds to the House of Flowers.
Here are pictures of some of the new children at the House of Flowers:
This update was sent to our email list on March 5.
Dear Friends, In less than 3 weeks it will be New Year in Afghanistan.
The children of the House of Flowers will be getting their annual new clothes and treats on this day that corresponds with the start of spring – the perfect time to commemorate the start of a new year.
And this year will be a momentous one in Afghanistan. The pending election in April as well as the NATO troop pull-out mean that the near future is even less predictable than usual. But our staff is prepared, and they have instituted some higher security measures for the children until things are more clear.
In the House of Flowers, life goes on: the children are doing art every Saturday under the tutelage of Mohammad Sayed, a friend in Kabul who met the children through the Kabul Rotary Club. The older children (Waheed, Basir and Nadia) are preparing to graduate from high school and take their university exams to follow in Razia’s footsteps in college. The younger ones are reaching the end of their winter school holiday, which began with good report cards from the children’s local school.
As has often been the case, the House of Flowers children perform extremely well in school, largely due to the additional educational experiences they receive in the House of Flowers. The House of Flowers teachers were particularly proud of Mirwais, now in 7th grade, who received a glowing report card with high test results and very complementary comments from his teachers at the local school.
In the past couple of months a few of the children have left the House of Flowers, having to move to the provinces with extended family. We are sad to see them leave, but we have confidence that their time in the House of Flowers has given them a stronger sense of confidence, knowledge, and peace. Six new girls have entered the House of Flowers in recent weeks, so we will be getting to know them as they settle in.
The Annual Report from 2013 is posted on the website, with a full financial accounting of last year’s activities. We continue to need consistent support, especially with inflation rate in Kabul, but we’re happy to report that the House is much more financially stable.
One important website update: Wepay has stopped offering its credit card payment service to organizations such as ours, so we have switched our credit card payment system to Paypal. Monthly recurring donations can also still be set up through the new Paypal system, so please consider becoming a consistent donor/member.
It has been an incredible year, very powerful on so many levels. The House of Flowers regained its financial footing and became stronger and morevibrant than ever, serving the children with stability and care.
Our annual report below outlines the story of the House of Flowers in 2013 from a financial, programmatic and operational standpoint. And it has good stories in it! It’s been a wonderful year, thanks to hundreds of people around the world who are dedicated to these children of Afghanistan…
Yes, it’s true – the Afghan National Institute of Music offers classical music concerts, and once again, the House of Flowers is grateful to Kevin Avers and the New Rotary Club of Kabul for their efforts to take the children to two concerts. Here was the invitation:
On behalf of Dr. Ahmad Sarmast, Founder and Director of Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), operating under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan, it is my pleasure to invite you to the third concert of the 4th Annual Afghanistan Winter Music Academy, this Wednesday, January 8, 2014, at 5:30 p.m. at ANIM.
The concert will feature guest artists including Camilla Dayyani, singer; Colin Davin, guitar; Rebekka Angervo & Jessie Huang, piano; Marc Uys, violin; and Johan Krarup & Gjilberta Lucaj, cello. The eclectic program will feature everything from a Vivaldi Guitar Concerto to a raga performed in collaboration with ANIM’s rubab and tabla teachers (Us. Rameen and Us. Fraidoon) to the first performance in Afghanistan of the Finnish series of piano concerti entitled “Happy Animal Pictures,” featuring one of our youngest pianists, Aziza.
Kevin and his friends took the boys of the House to one concert, and the girls to another. Here’s what he had to say about it:
“Ibrahim (from my house) collected the boys at 4 and took them over to ANIM. I arrived a few minutes after. We went into the concert room and had a discussion about the program, before settling down for the start which came quite promptly at 5:30.
Even though this evening’s program featured mainly piano and strings and was very classical, I think the boys found it quite intriguing and had a good time in general.”
Here are some pictures. The boys are sporting some new jackets as well, it seems!