July 2018 – Life Milestones at the House

A few months back we wrote you a brief update about the House of Flowers. We shared that life is flowing solidly and consistently there, with some new young children as well as older ones embarking on new phases in their lives.

Today we have additional news about some life milestones occurring within the House:

There were two brothers who grew up in the House, Ashraf and Hekmat. They were smiley and sweet boys whose father had died and whose mother was destitute. 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, age 23, had finished high school and was working as a mechanic and a driver for Nestle Company, and enjoyed body building.  Hekmat, the younger brother, was also working as a mechanic while studying pharmacy at night school.

Ashraf
At the home of Hekmat and his mother (in the middle), with HoF staff visiting

Two weeks ago we received the very sad news that Ashraf was 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.

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 baby son! Shukria had entered the House at age 2 ½ and grew up there with her sisters Nadia and Razia, who went on to university. (Razia is now a teacher at the House of Flowers.)

Mohammad Yaser Jan, Shukria’s son born July 2018

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

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 celebrate and mourn together. And in the meantime, the children of the House of Flowers continue to play and grow.

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

 

Peace Day Sept 2015 (19) (Copy)

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

 

Dec 4 2015 (9) (Copy) OCt 21 2015 HoF (7) (Copy) OCt 21 2015 HoF (13) (Copy)

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MEPO’s work in Nepal, blog link. And, the House of Flowers lives on!

End of June, 2015

Dear Friends,

MEPO in Nepal
Greetings from Nepal! Just a very quick email to you all from Kathmandu, where Allison and Mostafa have been helping out in some villages after the earthquake. It’s great to be back where MEPO first started its work helping those in need. There is so much to tell that we’ve started a very simple blog. Right now it’s just text plus a few photos in the first posting because of some technical challenges, but at least you can read a bit about what we’re seeing and doing with the money donated by so many caring friends, as well as read some on-the-ground perspective. The link is mepoinnepal.wordpress.com. You can sign up to get alerts when we make posts by registering on the Follow Me link at the bottom of the blog page.
The House of Flowers Will Stay Open!
In addition, a quick update about the House of Flowers. As you know, its future has been in jeopardy. But in the past 2 months, we have had substantial pledges from some very committed individuals, and this, along with the staff’s wish to continue, even proposing their own salary reductions to reduce the budget, has made it possible to keep the House of Flowers open. We are doing our best to attain all the funds needed for the next year by the end of July, and this is very doable; we are quite close. We will also be paying back our loans, as well as redoing our systems and improving security.
So all in all, things are looking good, and we welcome everyone’s continued participation and contribution. The Kabul staff’s very strongly stated desire and commitment to keep the House open, even proposing their own pay reductions,  has given us energy and inspiration. We hope you also feel the same and will all continue to help.
With warmest regards,
Allison and Mostafa

MEPO Plans a Return to Nepal to Offer Earthquake Relief Aid (May 2, 2015)

[This email was sent out to MEPO friends on April 30, 2015.]

It is in the face of sudden natural disasters such as the one that has happened in Nepal that we need each other the most, and our altruism is a gesture that shows that we are of the same human fiber and emotion.

The current and future needs in Nepal cannot be immediately measured, but the list will add up in the weeks, months and years to come.

In the wake of MEPO’s previous work in Nepal (1998-2002) and repeated visits in following years, and knowing the terrain, culture, language and local people, MEPO has decided to launch another effort this June-July to conduct health camps in rural areas and provide cash, food, and other support for the most hard-hit families. The decision to go to Nepal in June-July instead of immediately is because we must avoid being in the way of the emergency rescue and emergency workers currently on the ground there.  In addition, in coming months many survivors will be struggling to cope with life while the world slowly forgets. In the weeks to come, health problems will increase. The appearances of ailments such as stress-related gastritis/ulcer, diarrheal problems due to contaminated water and food (especially among children), wound infections, and insomnia and anxiety disorders among other health issues will be of great concern.

So we invite you to join us in this effort and send your cash donations to MEPO, earmarked for Nepal Relief.. Please note that we will purchase medications and supplies in India and Nepal, and so we do not need donations of supplies.

With every positive step and hope we can always turn the tide of our despair into another meaningful opportunity in life.

Mostafa and Allison

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”   —Martin Luther King

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others … Actions express priorities.”  —Mahatma Gandhi

Robbery in Kabul at the Orphanage (April 29, 2015) – Help Needed

Unbelievable Robbery at Our House of Flowers Orphanage in Kabul

The earthquake in Nepal on April 28 was unexpected, and the scale of its disaster has kept the caring people of the world bewildered. The House Flowers in Kabul has also experienced its own kind of “earthquake” recently: an unprecedented and frightening robbery. We ask ourselves, who in their right mind and humanly moral fiber would rob the belongings of orphans?

And yet, around 9:30 PM a couple of weeks ago, five armed masked men entered the House, forced all the staff in a room and demanded the safe. They threatened to shoot if the staff resisted. Eventually the thieves took the safe with money of the House and the back-up funds of Hewad, our partner NGO. They also took Hewad’s car. Fortunately, most of the children were in bed except one and were not aware of what was happening. And luckily no one was physically hurt. But the trauma lingered for a several days as the stress hit  some of the children and staff, and they fell sick and could not eat or sleep.

The police investigation is ongoing with no definite results. They recommended that we have an armed guard from now on. Having a man with a live ammunition at the gate of the House of Flowers is the last thing we wish to have in a Montessori-medium school, but the realities of Kabul regrettably dictate otherwise. This is also another additional cost we have to undertake; the police do not provide this service for us. This is in addition to our recent decision to try to increase the budget of the House in order to keep up the annual increase in cost of living.

We are now pleading to our very generous donors and friends of the House of Flowers to help out in an emergency manner to replace almost 2 months’ worth of our budget we have lost in this robbery (“financial earthquake”). Meanwhile we need to sustain (and hopefully increase slightly) the monthly salaries of the teachers and staff,  the children’s food and supplies,  as well as the house rent for the remaining months of 2015.

Please accompany and help us, as we are trying to help both the House of Flowers and the Nepal earthquake victims during this difficult time. Let us not give up and abandon those children because of the dreadful and intimidating bandits who shame Afghanistan’s integrity every day.

You are our only conduit to transfer solidarity and love to those who need help throughout this unusual chapter of events.

Thank you for being there.

Mostafa and Allison             May 2, 2015