Afghanistan’s Elections, Round 2

The second round of Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential elections yesterday were a success. 7 million people showed up to vote – that is approximately 60 percent of the eligible voters in Afghanistan, similar number to what we saw in the first round. Despite the success of the day, it did not go off without glitches. There were skirmishes around the country, and sadly a close relative of our Scout Director, Tamim Hamkar, was killed by Taliban related violence in Lowgar Province. We offer deepest condolences to him and his family.

Living in Afghanistan during this difficult and unpredictable time we are all affected by the violence and the risks of everyday life. However we at PARSA are proud to be part of such an important time in Afghanistan. The truth is that our national staff and Afghans in general are optimistic that this election represents a turning point for them and the politics of their country, and we are sharing in their optimism. Soon the country’s next president will be announced, and the next stage of Afghan history will begin.

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PARSA Farm: Early AM Cow Milking

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SakinaEvery morning Sakina or one of the other women in our PARSA Farm program heads over to our cow pens early in the morning to milk the three milking cows we currently have. The process takes about an hour and results in a bucket of the freshest, most healthy organic milk in the city. We bottle it in 1.5L bottles and sell it for 100 afs (approximately 2 USD) per bottle – cheaper than the UHT filled milk sold in Kabul’s grocery stores. Our 3 cows are currently producing enough milk for about 8-12 bottles daily – and PARSA staff love the creamy, fresh milk so much that we usually buy it all out before it even reaches the bazaar!

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Our PARSA Farm is a “Learn and Earn” program that allows women to learn a new valuable skill while earning a small income that comes from the returns of the farm. Our PARSA Farm currently employs 10 women who will take the agriculture skills they are acquiring back to their homes and subsequently start their own small farms in the coming years.

Based on the success of our small farm and the overwhelming demand for fresh milk and milk products, “watani” (Afghan organic) eggs, and fresh vegetables, we are planning to expand our farm into a business that will help sustain PARSA in the future, allowing us to fund some of our own programs and be less reliant on external funding sources. Large scale funding sources in Afghanistan are becoming less reliable as international attention wanes, and our farm is one example of how we are responding to this challenge and working to plan a sustainable future for PARSA and our programs.

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Learning to milk a cow – it’s not as easy as it looks!

Bamiyan Family Park

Not all of PARSA projects turn out the way we intend, sustaining themselves into the future, especially projects that involve valuable resources such as the Bamiyan Women’s Garden.  In 2007, PARSA took over the stewardship of a very special park in Bamiyan near to Share Zohak dedicated to women.  Over the course of three years we found donors to help support the development of the Bamiyan Women’s Garden into a restaurant, greenhouse and a place for women’s crafts. An unfortunate push by government and international donors for tourism had the park transferred out of our hands into the hands of a business.  Subsequently, it has been shut down to the public.  Tourism has virtually stopped in Bamiyan because of security.  This park was built with love by Arezu, a Canadian who spent 18 years in this area and also started the women’s garden in Kabul.  We hope that with the upcoming political changes, that this park will be put in the hands of an Afghan agency that will open it once more to the women and families of the area for enjoyment and an opportunity to grow small enterprises.  Of course, as we have long memories and a long term commitment to the communities of Afghanistan, we are ready to participate.

PARSA Farm: Our New Baby Cow!!

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Welcome to PARSA, Elvis!!

Our new “chucha gaw” (baby cow) has finally been born. Isn’t he adorable!? These pictures are from the morning after he was born, he is already walking strong. Everyone is very happy to welcome him, and Yasin decided to give him the name Elvis – and he is already stealing our hearts, just like his namesake. Welcome to the family, Elvis!

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Our Friday Brunch crew came to say hi to Elvis – no one could help but smile

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