There are so many things on my heart to share from this journey. Everyday is a new wake up call. I could tell you stories that would bring tears to your eyes - both of sorrow and of joy. I could tell you stories that would alarm you - and inspire you. But what I want to do is find some way to assure you that hope is alive, change is possible and action is required - now. Today we went on a three hour cruise. OK, that's not true - we went on a three hour bone jarring, teeth rattling, oppressively hot, blindingly dusty drive over land on nothing resembling a road. Our destination was a remote, rural area of Afghanistan where Ayni has some past and current school projects. Our objective was to check on progress and find out what new needs exist. On a practical level, we accomplished what we wanted. On a personal level, we accomplished much more.
Everything I saw boils down to one point. The children will do anything humanly possible to go to school.
Look carefully in the second row of these pictures. You will see two girls at separate schools, who instead of staying home - brought their baby sisters with them. Making this even more remarkable is that they had to get up by at least 5:00 in the morning, do home chores and walk in the dark (no electricity) more than 30 minutes to be at school by 7:00 (much longer, if not impossible, in the rain and goop called mud.) And ... when they go home from school they pick up working where they left off that morning.
Here, you might think, is a young student reciting her lesson in front of the class. You'd be half right. Teachers are in short supply, women teachers are even fewer. Trained teachers fewer still . Trained teachers living in the village - fewer again.
Today, this young 6th grade girl, has turned from student to teacher because the regular teacher, with a 3 hour drive is absent. And yet ... the teaching is important "so I will do it".
These kids are outside - where "at least" they have desks and a teacher.
This crowd of boys is in an insufferably hot canvas tent, with no chairs, desks, books or air - but a teacher and one propped up blackboard. Don't think that's bad enough? This is just one of the two classes using the tent at the same time.
So you think you've seen it all? You haven't. But here I am on top of the brand new roof we put on this school ... and what do I see way off in the distance? That would be the latrine ... and that's as close as you want to get. But if I was a kid - I'd want it closer and I'd want it be a whole lot nicer when I got there.
I hope you get the picture - there is hope because kids, parents and village elders see that education is the path to a greater future. But we have to act now. 75 million children across the world are not in school. As you can see, some of those that are in school are still getting less than they deserve or need. Attached to this blog are some links under the heading RESULTS. Please check them out. You will find out more about the issue of education and how you can get involved by simply writing or calling your Representative/Senator. I'm not asking for money - I'm asking for Action.