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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!

 

9) A budget adjustment and update (Feb. 20, 2013)

As many of you know, the House of Flowers was in a funding crisis at the end of 2012. The staff showed their true dedication to the children by absorbing a reduction of the budget and taking a salary cut until we were able to financially stabilize the House’s situation. Thanks to the enormous outpouring from donors , we have managed to pull back from the brink and are now feeling much more stable.

So last week we told the staff that beginning next month (March) they will each get a solid raise. This is to help them deal with the steadily increasing cost of living in Kabul as well as recognize their full dedication to the children.

This increases the annual House budget to nearly $70,000. Click here to see the full budget and explanation.

We are continuing to raise funds since we are not yet at our annual goal, so please, help out in any way you can. We are especially looking for people who are willing to commit to a level of monthly support.

Click here to find out how to become a member. And click here to see how to donate.

 

8) The kids go bowling with the Rotary Club in Kabul – Results! (Feb.13 & 20, 2013)

The New Rotary Club’s Bowling for Children fundraiser was a wonderful success in Kabul this week, as it became Bowling with Children! Fahim and Nik Mohammad took several of the older kids, arriving in a mini-bus at 4:30 and staying til 9:30. It sounds like they had a great time, and here are some pictures to show it. (And the bowling alley is pretty impressive, too.)

Thank you SO much to Kevin Avers and the New Rotary Club for their great effort in pulling off such a neat event in Kabul for the House of Flowers. We don’t know yet how much money was raised, but the experience itself was priceless for the children. (February 13)

***It’s now February 20, and recently we learned that over $1900 were raised that evening!! A great haul for such a short time, with the added benefits of getting more people involved with the House of Flowers, meeting the children, and giving the children a great time and new experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7) MEPO’s work goes beyond the House of Flowers (Feb. 2013)

Even though the House of Flowers is the major project of MEPO, our work and mission has always been to reach out to those in need who are the unseen, who fall through the cracks. Whether it’s a poor village family in Bhutan that can’t make ends meet, or a terribly sick young boy whose family can’t afford hospitalization in India, MEPO specializes in small-scale, individual support to help families and individuals get through a rough time in their lives.  Donations are needed for this vital work as well.

For more details, click here

Arjun, a very sick boy in Varanasi, India,  whom Mostafa treated at a clinic in January. MEPO provided extra food for him as well as payment for his hospitalization. He is on his way to recovery.

6) Bowling for Children! (Feb. 7, 2013)

The title may sound a bit strange, but thanks to Kevin Avers and the New Rotary Club in Kabul, it is the announcement of a fundraiser for the House of Flowers at a bowling alley in Kabul, advertised on their fun flyer below.

It is the first fundraiser organized for the House in Kabul itself, and it sounds like it will be a lot of fun. Who could have imagined going out for a night of bowling in Afghanistan? And yet that’s what lots of people (we hope!) will do on Feb. 11 in Kabul. Thank you to Kevin and his group for organizing this great event in support of the House.

We hope to hear more news of creative fundraisers; let us know what you do!

4) It’s a New Year! Newsletter and Updates from the House of Flowers (Jan. 5, 2013)

[This newsletter was sent out to MEPO friends and donors in early January 2013.]

As 2013 arrives, it’s time for an update of things at the House of Flowers, and a look to the future. MEPO is re-establishing the House of Flowers system as of January 1, following a number of organizational changes that have taken place over the past couple of months. Change is always a source of growth and natural transitions, and our intention is to strengthen, stabilize and enrich what we offer the children.

Empty Nest Syndrome!

One momentous change involves the three sisters Razia, Nadia and Shukria. These girls were the first to join the House of Flowers following the death of their mother and the instability of their father 10 years ago. They have been pillars of liveliness and joy at the House of Flowers, maturing from timid, young girls into beautifully strong, mature, educated, bright young women who are highly respected in the House and revered by the younger children. Razia is preparing for her college entrance exams, amazingly; Nadia is in 11th grade, and Shukria is a precocious 8th grader at age 12.

Recently, their father, who has struggled for many years to maintain a stable life, decided he could take care of his daughters. The three girls moved into a small room with him in the neighborhood. It was quite a heart-wrenching event for everyone, since none of us could imagine the House of Flowers without them; it was the only place the girls had known for 10 years, nearly all of Shukria’s life. But gradually we all saw it as a positive transition. The girls, especially Razia, are becoming more and more independent and they are ready to head into the world. The beautiful thing is that their connection to the House is so strong that they come every week to hang out, visit, and play. Razia came back to celebrate her 19th birthday at the House, and the girls call regularly and talk with the staff.  The staff also goes to visit them. The House is truly the girls’ home and the staff is their family. The staff has made it crystal clear that if the girls need anything at all, they can come any time of day or night and everyone will be there for them. So even though the three girls are no longer living within the House walls, they are still an integral part of the House of the Flowers and always will be.

We are currently working on establishing means of support for Razia’s university ambitions.

 

Re-Evaluating the Nursery Program
Last summer through the work of the NGO PARSA, the House of Flowers was expanded to include a nursery for abandoned infants. We were initially very enthused about this service for such vulnerable children, and we are grateful to those donors who made the nursery viable for those  months. However, due to a number of circumstances including staffing, finances, and concerns about government support, MEPO has made the difficult decision  to suspend the nursery program for now as of January 1, 2013. We sincerely hope that upon re-evaluation and redesign of the program, and with additional funds, we will one day be able to again offer this critical service to the most vulnerable of all children.However, even though infants won’t be joining the House, we do continue to be the only orphanage that takes very small children. The government orphanages will only accept children age 7 or older, but in the House of Flowers we have several 6 year olds, 5 years olds, a 4 year old and a nearly 2 year old. Even just recently, in the end of December,  a 5 year old girl named Soman joined the House as its newest member. So we remain committed to protecting, housing and educating very young children.The Educational Program this Winter

Fatima and Qudsieh, the teachers at the House, following on Allison’s visit in October (read her blog here), have made their classroom programs stronger and even more beautiful. The classrooms have been redecorated and are vibrant with the children’s work, and the teachers are utilizing new Montessori materials and lessons. Several friends of MEPO have generously sent boxes of art and craft supplies which will be very welcome for staying busy during the cold short days of winter.

Moving Into 2013

Happily, the House of Flowers’ financial situation has stabilized, thanks to the immediate and generous response of so many people. (See the Donors page to view the impressive list of those who have gotten involved, just since November.) We are keeping the House budget tight for the next two months, but then we hope we will have enough funds to increase the salaries of the staff, all of whom  highly deserve it. It is an enormous relief to all of us that we have enough money now for the House to be stable for the next several months, but as we always say, raising a family is not a one-shot deal, so the House of Flowers will always need continuous and ongoing support.

Please keep telling your friends and families and schools about the House of Flowers! We want to especially thank those people who have committed to regular donations as members, since membership is a new undertaking for MEPO, and we’re also very happy that some Montessori schools and children are also getting involved.

The Website and You

And don’t forget to check back here regularly for updates and news. We will be continuing to expand sections such as those pages highlighting the children, and offering some new artwork. In addition, keep checking the Links and Connections page. We are updating it with organizations that have connected with us, or which offer other programs of service to others.

And we really want to have more of YOUR contributions that we can post on the website! Your ideas, letters, inspirations and writings will remind everyone that this work is a global community effort. People have gotten involved from Italy, Switzerland, Great Britain, the US, Iran and more, from schools to classrooms to individuals. The ways people respond are quite inspiring.

We’ve had donations of Fed Ex deliveries, school bakesale fundraisers, and contributions of blankets and food in Kabul itself. People have sent art supplies, knit hats, and begun writing letters to the children. All of these acts of love bind us all closer to these children and their lives.

We look forward to hearing from you! Contact Us or write us at mepo.hope@gmail.com.

Happy New Year and warmest wishes to all,

From Mostafa, Allison and the MEPO Staff

 

“They alone live, who live for others.”  (Swami Vivekananda)

3) Nove Onlus hopes to help MEPO expand its Montessori program in Afghanistan (Dec. 2012)

Nove Onlus  (www.noveonlus.org is an Italian NGO founded by Susanna Fioretti, a friend of MEPO from Kabul. Susanna is very excited by the prospect of expanding a Montessori program and philosophy to the city orphanages of Afghanistan through the government. She has included a proposal for such a program on her NGO’s website, hoping to raise funds for the project. To read more go to Links and Connections, and if you know of anyone or any organization that would be interested in supporting the project, please let us know!

2) Countryside Montessori adopts the House of Flowers for the holidays! (Dec. 2012)

It is a natural fit that Montessori schools would want to support the work of the House of Flowers and its Montessori program for Afghan children. So we are very happy to announce that Countryside Montessori School in Northbrook, Illinois (US) has adopted the House of Flowers for its holiday project. In a recent email they wrote:

After a brief but enthusiastic conversation at our staff meeting last week, we today sent a letter to our parent community requesting donations to House of Flowers in lieu of holiday gifts for teachers.  Our staff, administration and teacher are also looking forward to contributing. Very exciting!

Thank you to head of school Wendy Calise for making this possible. This is an honor and we are grateful for this inspiring show of support. We are also looking forward to how we can share the House of Flowers experience with the children of Countryside. Hopefully through sharing videos and artwork from the House of Flowers, the Countryside children will feel a connection and awareness of what they share with their Afghan peers.

You can read more about Countryside at www.countrysidemontessori.org. It has a very strong Montessori program, and their website can give you even more of a feel of what Montessori is all about.

1) Welcome to the new MEPO website! (Nov.8, 2012)

It’s perfect timing – exactly 10 years ago MEPO established the House of Flowers orphanage. And today we are launching a brand new website to commemorate the progress and the future of the House. We hope that you will explore the many facets of the site, which are designed to involve everyone in the practice and inspiration of serving others.