HFH Afghanistan Dedicates Two New Classrooms For 200 Students
MAZAR-E-SHARIF, 18th March 2010: Habitat for Humanity Afghanistan recently dedicated two new school classrooms benefiting about 200 students in the Ali Abad community in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh province.
In addition, the 800 students in the community can now enjoy safe drinking water and adequate washing and sanitation facilities as part of Habitat’s value-added housing program.
The ceremony was attended by students, Habitat families, community leaders, representatives from the government as well as Habitat. Officials from the education and economy ministries thanked Habitat for its role in the project that improves health and education of the 800 students in Ali Abad.
Impressed by the new facilities built by HFH Afghanistan, the officials have asked for Habitat’s help in improving health and education facilities.
With the new classrooms, the students can leave the crowded tents where they were previously studying in to move into secure, lasting structures with a stone foundation. Although more costly, stone was chosen over fired bricks due to its resistance against erosion from the highly saline soil in the area.
As part of the project, HFH Afghanistan also built two toilets, repaired existing toilets, installed new sinks and extended a water pipe from a well to the toilets.
During the construction process, the local Parents Teachers Association played a key role by helping to cure the stones, stopped students from entering the build site and provided the students with lessons in hygiene awareness.
A representative from the provincial education department urged the students and their families to take good care of the toilets and water systems.
Habitat plans to replicate the project in Turabi, a village with 1,700 schoolchildren who need classrooms, toilets and a secure water supply.
Habitat also expects to improve housing and sanitation conditions for 49 families who live in rental houses, with relatives, or in substandard housing — usually just a basement — in the urban area of Karta-e-Amani.
Basements are common living areas in Afghanistan because they are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. However, they are neither comfortable nor suitable in the long run due to a lack of adequate water and sanitation facilities.
If fully funded, the project will include construction of 49 permanent houses and a toilet and washroom for each new home.
HFH Afghanistan was able to extend its housing program to cover education and water and sanitation facilities because of its partnership with community leaders, said Kyle Scott, Habitat’s regional program manager for South Asia.
“Our work is well-received in this relatively safe part of Afghanistan, in the far north. Local leaders welcome us as a neutral non-governmental agency doing good work,” he said.
“They see that we can help provide the stability and progress that start with housing.”
“Education is also important to them, and since they trust our work, they asked for our help in constructing classrooms. We see this as furthering Habitat’s goal of building communities, not just housing.”
Habitat for Humanity began its program in Balkh province in 2002. Since then, it has served 518 families with safe, decent and affordable housing.