My Family in Afghanistan

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IMG_3064 copyAnyone who has lived abroad knows that although it can get lonely at times, new friendships are made, relationships established, and soon we start to develop a “family” in our chosen home. Personally, for a long time I have known that I have a wonderful community here with colleagues and friends who are amazing people and I am sure will stay in my life permanently, regardless of where our individual paths take us. Since I started to work for PARSA, I have always felt that our entire staff are a big part of my family in Afghanistan. However it wasn’t until my birthday yesterday that I realized how special they are all to me, and how much they appreciate me in return.

After a meeting in town I had made plans for a birthday lunch at a nearby restaurant. While I was eating a few colleagues called to wish me happy birthday and ask where I was. This seemed a bit strange at first because no one generally notices if I miss lunch, but it turned out they had planned a special surprise birthday meal – and were waiting for me to celebrate. Completely unexpected! I was late getting back, but when I did there was not only a special lunch, but also a big beautiful cake that Mina had brought, flowers, and even a few beautifully-wrapped presents.

Everyone – the Scouts, our finance and tailoring teams, even the operations and farm staff – came to my office for cake and a mini celebration. It was such a wonderful, unexpected day, and it made me realize that the people in that room are my true family in Afghanistan. It is such a blessing to be a part of an organization where the staff care so much about each other and really look out for one another’s well being and happiness. It was the best birthday present in the world to be reminded so strongly that I have such a beautiful, caring family at PARSA. Thank you all!IMG_3044

Nowruz with Shamsa

Our beautiful kids from Shamsa Village Orphanage came to visit us at PARSA for Nowruz celebrations, and it was so much fun! They arrived looking adorable and all dressed up in their Afghan best. We had plenty of fun activities, from flower planting (Nowruz is a time to celebrate farmers), to jelabi games (an Afghan sweet), to tokhum-jangi (egg-fighting), to horse riding and face painting. We even had a surprise concert and cake for everyone! What a wonderful day, the pictures speak for themselves. Happy Persian New Year to all our PARSA supporters around the world!

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Scout Distributions to Panjshir Avalanche Victims

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Since the devastating avalanches in Panjshir, our Afghan Scouts have been collecting donations for the victims and their families, and waiting for the roads to clear up enough to be able to deliver the donations directly to the affected villages. Last week a team of Afghanistan Scout Volunteers Society traveled deep into Panjshir Valley with a truckload of warm clothes, blankets, cooking supplies and medicine and handed them out to the families. Many victims said that although they had heard that there had been donations to help them via the governor’s office in the provincial capital, this was the first time since the disaster that a group had traveled directly to them with help.

Seeing the Scouts in action, spreading their message of peace and unity, is priceless – watch the video below or by clicking here: http://youtu.be/iNI1_GSi_cQ

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PARSA Women Celebrating Women’s Day

March 8th was International Women’s Day, and our PARSA female staff decided to leave the men behind for a day of our own. We all got dressed up and headed downtown for a women-only fashion show and concert with the famous Afghan singer Shahla Zaland. It was a great event and we absolutely loved spending women-only time with each other and all the other incredible Afghan women who were there – plus we had PARSA clothes in the fashion show! Happy Women’s Day to all our PARSA supporters!

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