House of Flowers Orphanage
Project: House of Flowers Orphanage
Canadian Donor Support: US$80,000 2016
The House of Flowers (HoF) is a unique orphanage in Kabul that provides a home as well as an innovative education program for orphaned children aged 5 to 18. The House was founded in 2002 in order to help meet the critical needs of destitute children who had lost parents. Children in these situations were sometimes living on the streets or in situations of extreme poverty and/or violence. The HoF was designed to provide a safe and supportive home and a very strong and unique educational program for these children, giving them the chance to grow up in a developmentally healthy environment and also to recover from the traumas many of them had experienced. The House is currently home to 27 children, one third of whom are girls.
Since 2002, the House of Flowers has operated under a protocol with the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, and Disabled and Martyrs (MoLSADM) of the Government of Afghanistan. The children come to the House through recommendations from neighbors, family members and the MoLSADM. The staff then investigate the socioeconomic situation and assesses whether the need for a home for the child is genuine and legitimate. The orphanage was initially founded by an organization known as MEPO (Medical, Education and Peace Organization), and has been operated by an Afghan non-governmental organization (NGO) known as HEWAD since its founding.
From its inception, the philosophy of the HoF environment provided for the children has been based on Montessori learning and teaching principles, emphasizing inner development and inner strength through meeting children’s developmental needs. For example, the children at HoF are integrally involved in the House community. They have responsibilities but also freedom. They are given experience in life skills in the House to help prepare them for adulthood. They learn skills of conflict transformation, self-awareness and compassion, and also develop strong social skills. Children have joined the House of Flowers along the way, through recommendations from the MoLSADM. As the children grow older, some of them have begun transitioning out into the wider world, working part-time and earning their own money. Those who have left the House frequently return to visit, and the staff keeps close tabs on them to make sure that they continue their studies even after having left.
The project objectives are as follows:
• To provide a safe, nurturing and empowering childhood home for orphaned children.
• To support the full K-12 education of vulnerable girls, as well as their post-high school education.
• To provide a model of alternative education possibilities in Afghanistan (Montessori education principles)
The following activities take place in the Orphanage :
- Providing a Montessori education in the House that supplements the education the children are receiving through the public schools, offering additional subjects such as health, geography, literature and poetry, advanced science, etc.
- Providing a Montessori environment that supports the development of confidence, caring for others, responsibility, and integrity. This is accomplished through programs in the House such as the child-run in-house bank which supports the development of financial skills; opportunities for self-reflection and conflict transformation with the wise guidance of adults; life skills such as lessons in cooking, sewing, house maintenance and health and nutrition; peer teaching; and House Committees, on which all children serve in order to build the community of the House.
- Keeping the staff updated and trained in Montessori principles, including child development and psychology.
- Ensuring that the physical facilities are always clean and well maintained.
- Providing nutritious and balanced meals.
- Encouraging cultural events and celebrations in the House, usually child-run, such as International Women’s Day, Teacher Celebration Day, Girls Education Day, etc.
- Supporting the children’s outside activities such as sports in the schools, taking supplemental courses in computer skills and English, and part-time jobs for the older children.
- Emphasizing the arts and providing opportunities for artistic endeavors and expression.
- Connecting with the wider community through field trips and in-house visitors.
- Ensuring an atmosphere of supported freedom in order to ensure children’s healthy self-development and sense of confidence and independence.