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A haven for Afghan children

By 2nd Lt. Maureen Dooley , ISAF Joint Command

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CENTCOM

Teenagers from the Saitara III orphanage in Kabul, Afghanistan relax on their porch during a visit from U.S. service members. Service members from the New Kabul Compound dropped off boxes of supplies and spent time with residents, Dec. 5. Photo by Chief Petty Officer Jason Carter.

KABUL , Afghanistan (Feb. 25, 2011) — Service members from the New Kabul Compound were greeted with smiling faces and wide eyes when they arrived at Sitara III, the all boys’ teenage orphanage in Kabul, Dec. 5.

Drivers from NKC MOVECON have been traveling to Kabul orphanages and delivering packages filled with clothes, toys and hygiene products, and with the abundance of holiday shipments, the visits have become more frequent.

“It’s a pretty enlightening and eye opening experience,” said Chief Petty Officer Chuck Shattuck, a MOVECON Driver who took the lead on this project two months ago. “We try to visit with the kids at least once a month, but with the holiday season, we will be going more often.”

The visits vary between the five orphanages in Kabul; however, there are also orphanages in Herat, Jalalabad and Pakistan. All orphanages are part of the Afghan Child Education and Care Organization, a non-profit organization that relies on sponsors for the upkeep of facilities, supplies for the children, and materials for their continuing education.

Jamshid, a volunteer who has been working with AFCECO since its inception in 2004, oversees the orphanages in Afghanistan, oftentimes driving the great distances between Kabul, Herat and Jalalabad to deliver supplies to the children.

“We have to make sure the children are secure. Our main mission is to provide a healthy and safe environment where the children grow up to be productive members of a civic society,” explained Jamshid as he described the various orphanages in Kabul.

Sitara III has approximately 30 boys varying from age 14 to 18, who all live under one roof where they grow and learn together. The teenage girls also have an orphanage, and this year the first three are graduating from the program, whereupon they will continue their education at a local university. Three more orphanages, each home to approximately 80 younger children, provide the solid base for further development.

Each child takes part in academics and sports while at the orphanages, which are run solely by volunteers who give up their own time to assist the children. Many teachers in the program come from local universities and teach a curriculum of English, music, mathematics, art, chemistry and a plethora other subjects. With the variety of programs being taught, one goal is to have the children grow up as confident individuals.

Angela Nibler, a volunteer teacher in the program since August, decided to travel from Idaho to Kabul to work with and make an impact on the children.

“This is the generation that can make a difference. These orphanages are much more than a safe haven for these children; they are the start of a new life,” said Nibler.

Service members and their families from around the world have the opportunity to sponsor these children individually or make donations to the program as a whole. For more information on AFCECO visit http://www.afceco.org