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Red Cross Team Distributes School Supplies in Afghanistan

Click here for a slide show of photos
from the school chest distribution in
Kabul on March 23-24.

Photos by Daniel Cima

"There was great enthusiasm and anticipation … you could see the excitement on their faces," Jaffer said. "Sometimes the teachers would call the children's names to collect items, and you could see their joy – it was the first time many of them had seen school supplies."

"There are so many students that the school day lasts only four hours, so that another round of students can come in to learn," Jaffer said. "The students understand that U.S. children had sent the school chests, and that American children were giving money to buy school supplies for them."


The American Red Cross sent 1,000 school chests, each full of pencils, notebooks, crayons, rulers and other school supplies, for distribution in Kabul during the first days of classes. Meanwhile, U.S. children were asked to work with their local Red Cross chapters to put together an additional 2,000 school chests for Afghan students by May 31.

Click here more information about the American Red Cross School Chest Program.

American Red Cross staff member Malik Jaffer was in Kabul to assist with the school chest distribution on March 23 and 24. He and other relief workers delivered the chests to schools as classes were in session. Because a single chest contains enough supplies for 40 students, the team provided each classroom with one chest, Jaffer said -- sometimes two for very crowded classrooms. The young pupils and their teachers were thrilled to receive the new supplies, he reported.

Children in Afghanistan began school on March 23.

Throughout the city, students filled a variety of different schools. Some schools were newly renovated buildings with new desks and chairs. Others had no furniture at all – children sat on the floor as their teacher wrote lessons on a chalkboard. Many children attended classes in mosques or private homes. Some students sat outdoors in courtyards to learn their lessons.

Although the majority of students do not have textbooks yet, USAID and UNICEF are working together to provide books in coming weeks.

Much of Afghanistan is suffering. Poverty, hunger and hardship are everywhere. But as school begins, there is a new sense of hope, Jaffer said. "There is a general feeling of opportunity in the country," he said.

"When I saw the looks on the children's faces, I felt very satisfied … it's hard to describe … when you give a child something they would never have had otherwise, you feel the hope and opportunity in the air."

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