Skip to comments.Children line up at Kabul orphanage for Christmas boxes from Canadian soldiers
Posted on 12/18/2003 11:38:59 AM PST by knighthawk
KABUL (CP) - More than a thousand children lined up at an orphanage in Kabul Thursday, waiting patiently before receiving gift boxes delivered to them by Canadian soldiers and aid workers.
The delivery was in sharp contrast to one Wednesday when children and adults overwhelmed Canadian Forces at a refugee camp several kilometres away.
Once the orphans were told they could open their boxes Thursday, the children, some as young as two years old, ripped into them, their eyes widening as they discovered stuffed toys, race cars, dolls, crayons and other treasures inside.
"I am so happy. This is the best," squealed Mohammad Aman, 6, as he sat with his brother, Hamayoon, 8, comparing what each had received.
"God bless you, may you live long," they both told the soldiers.
"We are very happy that you gave us these things."
More than 900 boys and 200 girls live at the Allahudin Orphanage, about 10 kilometres from Camp Julien, the largest Canadian Forces base in Afghanistan.
Unlike the children who live in the squalor of Kabul's refugee camps, the ones at the orphanage are properly fed, clothed and live in warm buildings.
Although they have no parents, the orphans have one other important advantage over the refugees: education.
"You can see the children are not being controlled by any teachers, but they are sitting in a very proper row in a disciplined way," said Gulalai Hamkar, the headmaster of girls at the orphanage, as the children waited.
"We taught them to do this."
On Wednesday, Canadian soldiers were overwhelmed as they delivered almost 2,000 Christmas boxes to a refugee camp for internally displaced people, an ordeal that one soldier described as "a mob scene."
"It makes it much easier to get the boxes to the children, obviously, when you're able to control the people," said Paul Gimson, a manager with Samaritan's Purse, the Calgary-based aid agency that organized the Afghanistan gift project.
"As a rule we don't normally do distributions for that size of crowd," said Gimson as he recalled Wednesday's refugee camp drop-off.
"But with this being a special case and a special distribution with the military, we didn't really have an option."
Gimson said he understood why adults at the refugee camp were somewhat unruly.
"They wanted something and they wanted to make sure their kids got a piece of something, no matter what it was," he said.
"That's a sure sign of how desperate these people are."
Children at the orphanage have received numerous gift packages from international aid organizations within the past two years.
"(Aid groups) have helped us in such ways ever since the interim government took over from the Taliban," said Hamkar.
The children also receive support from the government of interim President Hamid Karzai, support Hamkar says will pay dividends for Afghanistan.
"These children are the treasure of our country," she said.
"If they are taught in a very proper way, they will likely grow up and help in the rehabilitation of their country."
Can someone provide a link? I missed this one.