[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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy New Year and warmest wishes to all,
From Mostafa, Allison and the MEPO Staff
“They alone live, who live for others.” (Swami Vivekananda)