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Children in Afghanistan, December 2001
Twenty-three years of war have ravaged the mental health and psychosocial functioning of the people in Afghanistan. Killing, executions, massive persecution, forced internal displacement, fear associated with living in mined areas, and the latest escalation of violence have left an indelible mark on the population. In addition, the psychological impact of living in uncertainty affects at least three million Afghan refugees.

Not only does Afghanistan hold the unenviable position of one of the worst health care situations in the world, it is also grappling with a hidden medical crisis: severe mental suffering resulting from decades of conflict and repression.

Since 17th of November 2001 all 650 street working girls are back to the Aschiana centers. They were banned from attending the centers by the Taliban authorities in 1998. Now they are mixing with more than 650 street working boys and are happily enjoying the services of the centers: health education, basic education, recreation, painting, mine awareness etc.

Painting is an important aspect of traumata treatment in all six centers of Aschiana, and many of the children have gained considerable skills in depicting Afghan life and cultural heritages. The painting experience contributes to increased self-esteem and confidence of the children who spent most of their live working and begging in the streets of Kabul.

“Afghanistan is endowed with a rich cultural heritage that encompasses oral traditions, priceless historical objects and monuments, as well as music accumulated from its colorful past at the crossroads of historic civilizations.  25 ruling dynasties have swept through the country, among them the Greeks, Mongols, Turks and Uzbeks.  With them came some of the world's great religions - Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Islam - adding language, oral traditions, legends, customs, monuments and priceless artistic artifacts.   Diversity of peoples, geography and sometimes simply inaccessibility allowed much of the cultural history to be maintained with these elements forming an integral part of the Afghan cultural identity. 

The destruction of the country's cultural heritage - oral and material - deprives Afghan children of a legacy that stands above differences of ethnicity, religion and politics.  It is a legacy that lends a sense of continuity and forms the base of national identity based around the uniqueness of their heritage.  As even oral traditions are eroded, their cultural grounding, understanding and language are threatened, with this becoming particularly evident among youth and young men and women in refugee populations." (UNICEF: Lost Chances, The changing situation of children in Afghanistan, 1990-2000, published June 200)

 


Working in the streets of
Kabul


A boy devotedly painting a picture of women


A short Break


Child to Child approach in
 teaching


Children are working for months on one painting


Classrooms are overcrowded by girls who come to learn


Hundred of street working girls are back to the center


Mine Awareness Paintings


Proudly presents a child its Buddha painting


Smaller children begin with simple paintings


Teaching of fine arts


A peaceful village scene


Mine Awareness Handcraft

Still Live - a desire for a beautiful world

Historic Old Monument

The Mosque in Herat

The famous minaret

Sign painting for Humanitarian
Aid

Butchery

Classrooms are sometimes
outside


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