“Very few organizations have kept their programs going this long.” These words from the program director of Canadian Women for Women of Afghanistan describe why they supported the House for several years. It is a testament as to how difficult it is to maintain a program in Kabul for 16 years, but MEPO and our partner organization HEWAD and the House of Flowers staff have done it, with the help of donors everywhere.
From 2002 to 2018:
In 2002, rent was $300 a month and the highest paid staff member made only $100 a month. The average expenses for the House of Flowers were around $1400 per month for all food, medical, clothing and energy . The total monthly budget was only about $2500. Over the past 15 years,however, the cost of living in Kabul has exploded.
Monthly Budget of the House of Flowers (2018)
|Living expenses and children’s support (food, utilities, communication, clothing, medical, taxes, school and administrative supplies, house maintenance, outings, scholarship support)||$ 2700|
|Salaries (2 teachers, 1 computer teacher, 1 manager, 3 cleaning/cooking staff, 3 guards )||$ 2930|
Total per month
The House of Flowers budget is reasonable, and the staff do all they can to keep expenses low while still meeting the children’s needs. We are committed to maintaining the highest standards of care and education, as well as making sure that the staff receive a solid living wage and compensation for their great dedication.
If you would like to join this effort, please donate now.
Please note: We are fully committed to running MEPO as a volunteer organization. Zero management costs are incurred, and we even avoid wiring money when possible in order to prevent bank charges. All donations go straight to the House of Flowers, where the staff tracks expenses and submits quarterly reports.
Crisis in 2015: The Staff That Wouldn’t Quit
In April of 2015 our financial situation reached a crisis when the House was robbed at gunpoint. Everyone was ok, but about $12,000 cash was stolen. At this point, the future of the House was at grave risk due to the declining donations combined with this large cash loss as well as some loans that had been used to cover funding transfer gaps. We at MEPO had to seriously consider whether the House could remain open. There was simply no money left.
However, when we broached the topic of closure with the House staff, we were struck by the vehemence of their response: they were absolutely adamant that the House must stay open, for the sake of the children. They revised the budget. They promised to find a house for cheaper rent. They even proposed their own pay cuts.
In other words, we were ready to admit that the end was near – but the staff simply would not let us give up.
We shared this with donors, and people responded. They too said that the House of Flowers was too special to let fail. Within one month, we had enough generous pledges that we felt comfortable committing to the next year at the House of Flowers. Then in January 2016, the group Canadian Women for Women of Afghanistan assumed the budget for operating costs, the House found a better house to live in, and life began to stabilize in the House.