Lieutenant Tenisha Cawte
Postcard from Bamiyan , Afghanistan
By Lieutenant Tenisha Cawte, RNZN
Exploring Bamiyan township and its surrounding areas has inspired me to think of different ways by which we can help this community. I have been fortunate to go on various outings with our chaplain, Padre Stuart Hight, to donate furniture, clothes and toys to the orphanage, clothes and sewing kits to a women’s group and clothes to the Emergency Refugee Centre. The Emergency Refugee Centre is responsible for distributing the donated items, particularly clothes, to the homeless and the families who are living in caves. Unfortunately, I did not get an opportunity to visit the families living in caves.
LT Cawte poses with a young friend during a recent visit to an orphanage in Bamiyan.
Immersing in the local culture convinced me that there must be something more I can do to help. After observing the behaviour of Afghan children, I decided that something like the Action Learning programmes would prove beneficial. Action Learning enables kids to participate in physical activities that improve core competencies aligned to leadership, management, teamwork, time management, trust and communication. I created a package consisting of ten different activities and received funding from the New Zealand Aid Programme to purchase items such as plastic drums and metal poles. Donations covered the other items that were required.
With the help and support of Padre, I tested the Action Learning package at the orphanage. The plan was for me to work with a group of older kids and demonstrate each scenario. The instructions are provided in both English and Dari, the Afghan language.
Unfortunately, our latest trip to the orphanage proved unsuccessful as all the older kids were in class. However, I was able to take the younger kids through a few activities such as building a card tower, untwisting linked arms and running between two rows of people, which required them to lift their arms quickly to avoid hitting anyone. The younger kids had relatively short attention spans and so, it was not long before they had me playing hopscotch, volleyball, hand clapping and spinning around in circles instead.
LT Cawte teaches children at an orphanage in Bamiyan how to untwist linked arms, one of several activities in the Action Learning package she has developed for Afghan youngsters.
I left the equipment and the instructions at the orphanage and plan to head out there again when the older kids would be free to participate in the Action Learning activities. I will also be visiting a few local schools to implement Action Learning once the children are back from their winter holidays.
I and other members of CRIB 21 are fortunate that we have been given the opportunity to submit ideas for projects like building chicken coops, upgrading the Afghanistan National Police Station, creating a memorial garden and providing supplies to those in need. It is hoped that CRIB 21, like the previous CRIBs, will be able to leave a legacy here in Bamiyan. New Zealand Defence Force personnel have indeed made a difference to this Afghan community over the past 10 years.
LT Cawte plays hopscotch during a recent visit to an orphanage in Bamiyan.