Afghanistan is still deeply affected by conflict and many parts of the country remain volatile and unsafe. Many families relocate to get to safer parts of the country, such as Mazar-e-Sharif, which has a large IDP camp on its outskirts. For four years now, our team in Mazar-e-Sharif has been working with a local camp for internally displaced people, offering out-of-school children a second chance at a formal education. 200 children from the camp have attended Skateistan’s Back-to-School program so far, completing grades 1-3 in just one year and then enrolling in public school. But when Covid-19 hit, the children in the camp were no longer able to attend their classes at Skateistan.
The team in Mazar was especially concerned about the children in the IDP camp. “Of course we want the best for all our students, but the children in the camp are especially vulnerable,” Noorzai, our Programs Officer in Mazar said.
So the teams started strategizing about what they could do to help. “The children cannot come in and out of the camp each day, and neither can we,” Noorzai explains. “So we realized that we’d need to train some community members within the camp if we wanted to keep running the program.”
The team selected two new educators who could lead the classes during the lockdown. Both of them already have experience as teachers in Faryab province and they both know the children involved in the program already. The Back-to-School program follows the Afghan national curriculum, and the team has already developed lesson plans so it was relatively straightforward to get the new educators trained and ready to deliver lessons. One of the new educators also has a room in his home that can be used for lessons, as it has a separate door where the children were able to keep distance from each other while learning.
Now there are around 100 children attending classes within the camp and around half of them are girls. As the Skate School reopens, we have to ensure that children can keep distance from each other so for now, the classes will continue in the IDP camp. The team is working out ways for the students to come to Skateistan at least once a week so they can keep skating as well as learning.
Part of the Back-to-School program also focuses on keeping children healthy. As well as teaching them how to reduce the spread of Covid-19, we also usually give students a hot meal as well as dried fruits and nuts everyday, which are donated by Ziba Foods. The team was determined that the children should not miss out on their nutrition, so as well as learning supplies, they also deliver fruits and nuts, gas for the stove and cooking supplies to keep our students healthy.
Covid-19 has presented us with new challenges, but we’re determined to keep reaching the students who need our programs in a range of different ways. If you’re in a financial position to do so, please consider making a donation to Skateistan today.
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