Thursday, 25 March 2010
We CAN make a difference.
A painting done by one of the children in our Day Care Centre in Kabul.
In the developed world, we have grown used to opportunities to develop our gifts and talents. We believe it is important that children are given the chance to achieve their fullest potential, whatever their gender, race, creed or ethnic origin.
Sadly, this is not universally the case. Even in the twenty first century, there are places where people’s life chances are restricted simply by accident of birth, and nowhere is this more demonstrable than in Afghanistan.
For six years from 1996, the Taliban ruled Afghanistan and imposed one of the strictest implementations of Sharia Law ever seen in the Muslim world. Among many other things, their rule made it impossible for women to work and girls to be educated, and some ethnicities also suffered. The Hazara people of Kabul, for example, suffered severe oppression. There were large ethnic massacres of Hazara people, and the Taliban refused to allow food to be delivered by the United Nations to Hazara regions. During conflicts, they were openly and deliberately targeted, and there were cases of men and boys simply disappearing.
World In Need works with the Hazara people in Kabul. We have a carpet weaving programme where Hazara widows can earn a living, and we also have a children’s day care centre.
At the centre, we provide medical services, food, including reinforced food to help the severely malnourished, education, a safe place to play, and art.
The current manager of the centre, Professor Ali Khan, is a professional artist and he gives lessons in art to the children. He quickly discovered some of the children have a particular talent and he encouraged them. The resulting pictures are sold through WIN. Half the proceeds are given to the artist and make a huge difference to their family finances, while the other half goes towards the running costs of the centre.
Each painting comes with details and a photograph of the artist. Some of these paintings will be exhibited in Crowborough, East Sussex in September, as part of the Crowborough Arts Festival.
One of the girls at the centre, Hamida, came to us from a life on the streets. Professor Khan quickly noticed that she had a talent for art. He has nurtured and helped develop her talent, and we found her a sponsor, someone who pays a small sum monthly which enabled her to be educated, fed and cared for.
This young lady has just won a place at University, where she will study art. Proof positive that sponsorship and encouragement do make a difference.