PARSA and Prince

13077045_10153436958311561_8780443025309385344_n

A little-known story about Prince: He loved Betty Tisdale and her work through HALO, and Betty loved PARSA. One of her visits to me she noticed a broken down building behind our residence and she asked me what we were going to do with it…I told her we hoped to renovate it into a Scout training center. A couple of weeks later we received a check from her in the US and she made me promise to keep the donor a secret at his request…and it was Prince…so even in this far away place, we have been touched by his life and how he lived it.
13029487_10153436955031561_7742487589280512422_o13071722_10153436960491561_8979427418283544467_o

 

Unexpected Support for Scouts’ Community Service

DSC07438 (1)

DSC07410 (1)
Last week Scouts from our Kabul troops, headed by Amin, were getting ready to leave PARSA to head to our local lake, Qargah, to do a tree planting community service activity. For those who don’t know, our PARSA main offices are located in the ‘Marastoon’ section of the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS), which is the social welfare branch of the Afghan government, so there are often impoverished visitors to Marastoon requesting welfare support. As the Scouts were getting ready to head out, a father who was visiting the offices with his three year old son who has heart disease saw them in their uniforms and asked what they were doing. The Scouts explained their plans to plant trees at the lake, and the father, very impressed, asked if him and his son could go along and help. Despite the father’s old age and his young son’s condition, they were very active in the work and together planted 5 trees. They were very proud to be involved in the community service, and we are very proud when the community appreciated the work of our Scouts so much that they join in to help. Well done, Scouts!DSC07450

DSC07419 (1)

Our 2016 PARSA Staff Picture

Every April the big tree in front of our Kabul main office blooms brilliant purple flowers, so we schedule our yearly staff picture at this time. It’s always a challenge to pick a time when everyone is around, and to actually pull everyone who is at the office away from their desks to come take the picture, but we did great this year! A few members of our Scouts and VoAY team are in Ghor Province filming episodes, but we got almost everyone! Two pictures so that Reese and Alyssa could take turns behind the camera. Thanks for supporting PARSA from our whole Kabul team, and from our provincial staff too!

2016-

Smiles copy

Plans for our PARSA Farm

20160306_134445

Our well loved PARSA animals provide an immeasurable amount of pleasure to our guests, staff and they also provide organic milk and eggs to local customers. The farm also means six of our local beneficiaries including two women have jobs. We are making plans with the help of our partners Nowzad and Mayhew to turn grow our animal program into an urban farm animal training center, providing a variety of educational programs for animal well-being, veterinary care and humane care. Our horses provide an experience of a lifetime for our young guests as they get a chance to ride. Afghan Scouts will earn a couple of merit badges working in community animal welfare education.  As we develop our program, we need basic support to all of those of our PARSA Family who are animal lovers.  Please consider sponsoring one of our animals so that we can continue our humane care of them. Every time I leave the country, my last words to Yasin are “Don’t let anyone eat Rumi!!!” Help us grow our farm into a place that more Afghans can learn how to care for animals to keep them healthy! More info on our PARSA Farm Project coming soon! If you are interested in getting involved, please contact alyssa@afghanistan-parsa.org!

IMG_7394

Mind, Body, Spirit – Psychosocial Training for Women

P1070967

PARSA’s psychosocial trainers are working with War Child Canada staff and partners to establish women’s support groups in “IDP” camps for refugees.  In March, we trained women who are volunteering to be support group leaders in camps around Kabul.  The program is called “Healthy Afghan Women Support Groups” and is adapted to help illiterate communities of women counsel and support each other. These support groups establish a safe place  for us to identify and support victims of violence. We have some unusual components that work very well in the Afghan cultural context as we have modified them so that they can be taught by local women community leaders. We have programs for “Relaxation Postures”, “Breathing for Well Being”, and my favorite “Save it for Tea Talk” where participants learn to listen to each other, solve problems together and save their complaining about life for the tea break. Eight years in development, this simple but effective program lays the foundation in a community for learning about mental health, intervening in family violence or gender based violence and helping people with severe mental health problems. Later in April we will have the opportunity to train Child Fund staff in a version for children and youth. Establishing effective psychosocial programs in Afghanistan is an uphill job, so a big thank you to our psychosocial team for producing this important program.

VoAY Filming at Jebel Seraj

20160404_100932 This past Monday Mina, Marnie, Alyssa and the VoAY team went to film a VoAY segment for an episode on Parwan. We visited the ruins of Jebel Seraj, which was built early in the twentieth century as a summer palace for King Habibullah, and had the honour of having King Habibullah’s granddaughter, Mahbouba Seraj, give our Scouts a tour of the palace. Mahbouba talked about visiting her grandfather at the palace when she was a child, and walked us through the grounds describing what they looked like when they were still in their original glory. She even took us to the ‘elephant quarters’ where the king kept four elephants who were regal symbols of the greatness of the crown. It was such an honour to visit the beautiful grounds and get a glimpse of Afghanistan in its heyday.
20160404_101135

20160404_101458

20160404_102113

20160404_103050

Meeting with the First Lady- PARSA Scout Masters

001 002Mashid and Fatema are lead Scout Masters at Marastoon, as we build up both PARSA staff trainers and volunteers.  They represented PARSA Afghan Scout program at an event First Lady Rula Ghani hosted to recognize emerging women leaders.  PARSA has plans this year to triple our women Scout Masters for the Afghan Scout program.  We thank the First Lady for including our women leaders.

New!!! PARSA Job Corps…

12074491_897291967031634_914190553913951418_nIn the fall of 2015, PARSA Afghan Scouts lost a very talented and active scout to the illegal immigration trail. Mohammed had been in the scouts for almost five years, Marastoon troop and had just recently attended the Japanese international Scout Jamboree representing the Afghan Scout Movement.  His mother, under pressure from family members, sent him and his cousin out of the country because she saw no future for him here.  He died in Iran in a car crash.  PARSA directors and staff met to make sense of this tragic loss and decided tDSC07598hat in 2016 we would start an economic program for youth, pre job skills, and focus on a message of hope for the future for the youth in our programs.This week, Reese and Safi started the program with 8 boy scouts, who will meet twice a week and learn all sorts of skills that will build their confidence as workers as they continue school and decide their own employment future with PARSA’s support.  Reese and Safi are starting them on their own garden, where they will be able sell the proceeds, and learn as a team how to reinvest iDSC07565n other projects.  “Uncle Daoud” is the expert who will work with them on this project but after the garden is put in they will move onto carpentry, plumbing, painting, and finding products they can sell.  They will also learn the basics of running a business, managing money and working as a team.  If you would like to donate to this project we would appreciate the support to get it started.DSC07621

 

Steve Mccurry, photographer visits PARSA

url

PARSA had a very unexpected but delightful visit from Steve Mccurry, renowned photographer who took the now famous picture of the Afghan Girl.  Steve has a very long history of working in Afghanistan and is respected by Afghans for capturing the feeling of Afghanistan in his photos.  He visited a Scout community service tree planting event with us, to take pictures of Scouts for an upcoming National Geographic article on “Kabul Now”.  I was pleased both to have him take pictures of the Scouts as it is a good news story for Afghanistan.  I was also touched by how honored the older Afghan dignitaries were to meet him.  He sees Afghanistan the way Afghans want to be seen.

A link to his story:http://edition.cnn.com/2015/03/23/world/steve-mccurry-afghan-girl-photo/?iref=obnetwork

DSC07384 DSC07401DSC07464