Children in Crisis

13 March 2017


Kabul is a city where hope springs eternal. After nearly forty years of civil war there are signs of renewal and regeneration. From the CBECS (Community Based Education Centres) and the pioneering work with severely disabled children (providing social workers, physiotherapists and access to schools) to the important work to rehabilitate young offenders through the rightsbased Juvenile Justice programme, Children in Crisis is at the forefront of efforts to rebuild shattered communities.

It was an enormous privilege to visit CBECS at Rishkor and Bala Ko e Afshar, improvised settlements on the outskirts of Kabul where Children in Crisis has established schools which provide accelerated learning programmes to enable children to access state secondary schools. The enthusiasm of the children and the quality of the teaching were inspiring. Instead of despondency and gloom, we found optimism, excitement and a love of learning.

We visited adult education classes where women were mastering reading and writing as well as acquiring new skills such as tailoring. Among the subjects we discussed were the best age to get married (the consensus was 25) to the multiplier effect individually owned sewing machines could have on their economic fortunes. Who would have guessed that Keynesian economic theory is alive and well in Kabul!

We met children with complex disabilities and needs. Children in Crisis have enabled these children to access life-changing hospital treatment as well as supporting them with physiotherapy to strengthen limbs and improve mobility. Social workers advise families on how to adapt their homes and care for these disadvantaged children so that they no longer feel marginalised and forgotten. Their mothers urged us to continue this programme which is having such a transformative effect on the lives of these extraordinary children.

Finally, we visited a juvenile detention centre which accommodates youngsters who have committed crimes from petty theft to murder. The day release programme sponsored by Children in Crisis showed evident benefits in that the boys are being rehabilitated with humanity and compassion. We interrupted an Art lesson and met a group of boys who were acquiring skills which will allow them either to re-enter the education system or give them the wherewithal to find employment. More bleak was the closed prison which was cold, spartan and Dickensian. Children in Crisis are working with the Ministry of Justice to improve conditions for these young offenders. From providing social workers in Police stations at the very start of the judicial process to ensuring that conditions within the centre meet basic human rights, CiC is fulfilling its mission statement of looking after those unfortunate enough to find themselves at the very bottom of society.

We have an excellent team in Kabul led by Timor who has been with Children in Crisis for more than twenty years and whose father worked for CiC before him. With such a dedicated work force, a clear programme and the impetus for change and renewal, Children in Crisis is setting the pace in Afghanistan for others to follow. I do hope you will support these valuable initiatives and help CiC to transform lives.

Anthony Wallersteiner, Headmaster