Since 2004, girls from the Afghan School Project of St. Luke’s Church in Hope, have been carrying on an exchange of letters with girls at the Yakawlang Central Girls High School in Central Afghanistan.
The girls write about their favorite games and school subjects, their pets, and what they want to be in the future. Many send photos and drawings. They also exchange small gifts, which from Afghanistan tend to be jewelry or handicrafts such as embroidered scarves and handkerchiefs.
This project has so caught on at the Yakawlang school that there are now many more girls there wanting pen pals than girls here to write to them. The Afghan School Project is, therefore, looking for Youth Groups in the Diocese of Newark who would like to partner in:
The letter exchange
We are looking for girls, age 12 and up, who want to become pen pals. There are two letter exchanges a year; one batch of letters goes off to Afghanistan in April, the second in August. Continuity is important, so girls should be prepared to stick with the project.
The Afghan School Project raises money for the school to buy items they need. Last year $2,000 was raised to buy sports equipment, books and white boards. We would expect the Youth Group to do a small (or large!) fund raiser as a part of its involvement in the project.
One of the objectives of the Afghan School Project is to educate our youth about life in Afghanistan and the challenges facing women in that country. We have speakers at meetings and go on trips, such as to a mosque or an Afghan restaurant. We would expect that activities of the Youth Group would include education about Afghanistan and we have materials we can share.
I am convinced that their experience getting to know peers in an entirely different part of the world and culture will have a lasting impact on the girls, both here and in Afghanistan, who have been part of the Afghan School Project. “They really want to go to school,” one of our girls said, speaking of her Afghan pen pals.
Boys as well as girls are invited to be a part of the project. Although letter writing is restricted to girls, boys can be part of the other activities. And we would very much welcome creative thinking on the part of the boys as to what they can do to support girls education in Afghanistan.
There is more information about the Yakawlang school and the Afghan School Project, as well as photos, on St. Luke’s website.
Interested youth leaders should contact Carola Walton, Coordinator of the Afghan School Project, at 908-475-3644 or firstname.lastname@example.org.