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Our Volunteers in Afghanistan

A4T has had a number of talented volunteers who dedicated their time to helping Afghanistan and A4T projects over the years. We are thankful for all who have volunteered in Afghanistan and the US.

If you are interested in volunteering for A4T in the US and meet our qualifications, please write to volunteer (at) afghans4tomorrow (dot) org and include your resume, (and if you are fluent in Dari or Pashto).
If you are interested in volunteering in Afghanistan for A4T as a teacher trainer in science or other subjects, please send a note about your interest and your resume to the above address. One of our board members will get back to you. Thank you.

2013 Volunteers:
Ron Bradley
volunteered as a counselor at Tomorrow’s Afghans School (formerly known as A4T 1 School) in April, 2011 (see below). Ron stated that he missed the children and their teachers and indeed returned to the school in Kabul in November, 2013. He counseled with numerous students and their teachers, and provided an in-service for the faculty on stress related topics.To view a summary of Ron’s experiences in Kabul and his photos of some young faces of Afghanistan, reflecting the hope and resiliency of the Afghan children, click Here.
2012 Volunteers:
Matt Hawcroft
spent 3 weeks in Farda-e-Afghanan School, or Tomorrow’s Afghans School (formerly known as A4T 1 School), Kabul in Fall 2012.
His time was primarily spent assisting 20 students at the school with their research and preparations for the school's third annual Science Fair. He also spent time assisting with science, math and English lessons.

In the above right photo: Matt receiving gifts and thanks from students at the school's Teacher Appreciation Day Lunch, following the ceremony.

Using a donation from the Royal Meteorological Society (UK), he worked with the schools’ science teachers to devise a list of laboratory equipment for the school, which was then purchased and a basic science laboratory was set up in the school - pictured below.

Since leaving Kabul, Matt has stayed in contact with A4T and became a member in January 2014. He has been working with A4T's Country Director in writing and developing funding proposals related to education and science, in particular, in Afghanistan. Matt is from the UK and has degrees in law and geography. He is currently working towards a PhD in meteorology.
2011 Volunteers:
Ron Bradley volunteered for two weeks this spring at our A4T School in Kabul. Ron provided counseling and support to our students and teachers. His primary focus centered on assessing the psycho-social pulse of the students and teachers.

Some of Ron's photos of our students are posted on the A4T Group Facebook page under PHOTOS.
Enjoy a video Ron made of the A4T students at recess time here. View his Flicker album of photos of A4T students and at our A4T Guesthouse here.

Click here to read Ron's Bio under our A4T Members' Bio page.

2010 Volunteers:
Kathy Kelly
volunteered in Dec. and Jan. to write a Business Plan for the Briquettes Program and also to assist in our A4T schools in Kabul. Some of her photos are on our WebPages and are in an album '0'. She has also raised funds for our school programs and gives presentations on Afghanistan and A4T.

Mike Decker volunteered in March to train our Finance Manager, in Quick-books and other programs on a new laptop that he donated to A4T office.

Bare Root Trees Project
Six volunteers in late March planted and distributed 3,570 trees, in 5 locations in Afghanistan, -including apple, almond, apricot, roses, poplar and pine trees. The group was again led by Asma Eschen, A4T Board Member and co-founder of the Bare Root Trees Project, which is a co-partner with the First Presbyterian Church of San Anselmo.

2009 Volunteers:
Bare Root Trees Project
Five volunteers in spring 2009 planted and distributed more than 5,000 trees in Afghanistan -led by Asma Eschen, co-founder of the Bare Root Trees Project.
(Please see the Bare Root Trees Project)

Camilla Barry, president and founder of Classrooms Across Cultures, did some training for our teachers at A4T School # 1 this summer while in Kabul. She donated her time and materials to teach them two lessons in early July. Since then she continues to return to Afghanistan every year to provide teacher-training and classroom instruction in hands-on science lessons for Afghan students, through her nonprofit organization.

Here is an excerpt from her Blog post on July 9th, 2009: (see a photo and video on the link below)
"This is a very good lesson."

Yesterday I taught teachers at the Afghans4Tomorrow girls school in the Jangalak neighborhood of Kabul. I knew from prior years the teachers were interested in the workings of plants, so I designed a lesson on pollination. I spent the morning in the guesthouse garden gathering flowers in various stages of bloom. The ca-ca (old uncle) who cares for the garden helped me cut the stems with a knife he pulled out of his pocket, his hands gnarly. When he saw me bend over a tomato blossom, he went inside his house to show me the fruit he had recently harvested from it. I put the blooms into a cast-off water bottle for a vase. the driver and the housekeeper (at the A4T Guesthouse) drew near to see what I had gathered, and I pointed out the pollen, the seed heads.
After learning about various pollinators (bats, bees, birds, flies, beetles, wind) and their preferences, the teachers were given an assignment: design an imaginary flower that would be attractive to their assigned pollinator. Then they presented their flower to the class and explained why it would attract their pollinator.

The teachers enjoyed this lesson so much that they jostled with each other for priority in making their presentations! They really enjoyed thinking like a flower. Then we went outside with magnifiers and observed real-life pollinators in action.

"A4T teachers having fun with a lesson"
Here`s a brief video of teachers enjoying one of my lessons. It takes so long to download videos here that I have clipped it really short.

We were learning about pollinators. I asked the teachers to imagine a flower that would attract a certain pollinator: honey bee, bat, moth, butterfly, fly (re: flies, see previous post!), etc.

I told the teacher what each pollinator liked; then they drew a flower to attract it. They really liked this assignment, especially the opportunity to show their work to the other teachers. They all stood up at the same time, to be the first to make their report!

There was a great deal of laughter in this lesson. You can just catch me encouraging, `Good Job!`

The woman on the right is the Koran teacher. We were talking about how wonderful God`s work is, that these flowers knew how to get what they needed. I asked her if she could point out parts in the Koran that mentioned God`s work in creating the natural world. She told me to check Chapter 30.

Under `2006 Volunteers' below, read about Camilla's teacher-training at A4T schools.
View Camilla's Blog posts from Afghanistan in 2011 and 2010: HERE and learn how she has published a book of science lessons through the Afghan Ministry of Education for all Afghan schools & students!

2008 Volunteers:
Shaima Shahbaz, from NYC who joined A4T in early 2008, Traveled to Kabul in early September to volunteer in both our schools there helping in the English classes. She also helped with the A4T School # 1 Assembly. She oversaw the distribution to both schools of the wool hand knit clothing made by afghans for Afghans volunteers. As project manager of the A4T Fuel Briquettes Project during the last quarter of 2008, she helped as needed, the staff/students making briquettes at the A4T 1 station. She took photos of all the above school projects and has written excellent reports about them.
Bare Root Trees Project
Nine volunteers in April, 2008 were part of a tree-planting delegation led by Asma Eschen,co-founder of the A4T-Bare Roots Project. They planted 5,105 trees with partners from the local community. They also distributed over 270 boxes of humanitarian supplies to Afghan returnees. (Please see the Bare Root Trees Project).
Jeff Symanski is an elementary school teacher in Vermont and an A4T member. He returned to teach English at one of our schools in July. He did some teacher-training also and has shared the following about his experience:
This past summer I was very fortunate to return to Afghanistan as a volunteer teacher at the Afghans4Tomorrow Vocational and Training Center (A4T School #1). While it was only a month, there was a lot to experience and learn.
The hospitality of the Afghans was as welcoming as my first trip (see below under 2006 Volunteers). On a daily basis, the girls at the A4T School # 1 were very gracious and demonstrated their desire to learn English. I recognized some girls from my first visit and it was exciting to meet new students. It was also great to work with the current English Teacher; see below. A4T is extremely lucky to have a principal and vice principal very dedicated to educating their students. It was truly an honor to work under them.
At the A4T schools there is an exciting desire to learn and the girls seem very proud of their efforts. In the school you can hear teachers teaching and students reciting and answering questions. But you also hear and see girls laughing, playing, and enjoying their school. A4T is truly doing a great service for the community around its schools and as an American teacher it was a great privilege to be part of it.

To learn more about Jeff's volunteer experiences please see his Afghanistan blog.
2007 Volunteers:
Marsha MacColl, A4T board member from the San Francisco Bay Area, volunteered for two weeks in March ('07)in Kabul teaching English at the two A4T schools there, together with Susan Hall (see below). They taught the students vocabulary lessons, using flash cards, the alphabet, the ABC Song and other songs, and practiced dialogs.
On my third day at the Janet/A4T School, certificates were passed out to each student showing their year-end test scores and completion of that grade. The graduating sixth graders received their certificates (see photo) from their principal and were given praise by the A4T Country Director. After taking this photo the students spontaneously sang two verses of `We Shall Overcome` and then sang the National Anthem of Afghanistan. They also told me the career of their dreams, including: a teacher, doctor, engineer, journalist and TV broadcaster. The A4T students at both schools impressed me with their strong desire to excel in their lessons and in reading, and their respect for their teachers, school & A4T members. Seeing them laugh and sing brought me much joy. Many were eager to practice English with us and said English was their favorite subject!
We also distributed school supplies, a pair of hand-knit wool socks for each student, (see article/TV interview) and trees donated by the A4T-Bare Roots Group.
See the A4T students' `thank you' for their new socks, from afghans for Afghans volunteers, in this photo.
Susan Hall was a delegate on the Global Exchange Reality Tour "Women Making Change" in 2005. She wanted to return this year and help Afghan people. She joined Marsha to teach English in the A4T schools during their 2-week trip to Kabul in March.
Some of her photographs of our schools & students in Kabul and more may be viewed on the A4T Photo Library. Learn more about her experiences through her Greetings From Afghanistan blog.
Gloriann Liu is a professional photographer who has traveled to Afghanistan ten times over the past five years. On her trip there last February she helped with A4T's distributions of donated clothing to Afghan returnees in Kabul. Some of her photos from these are linked on the A4T Photo Library -under Gloriann Liu.

During June, Gloriann returned to photograph many people and places in Afghanistan, including the A4T school #1 in Kabul. These may also be seen in the above link.
See Gloriann's photos of Afghanistan on her website at
2006 Volunteers:
Jeff Symanski was a first and second grade teacher, from New York City, who went to Afghanistan in July and volunteered to teach English at A4T schools for one month. Here is an excerpt from his blog:
July 16, 2006:
I am presently teaching at the A4T School # 1. The school is made up of about 220 - 240 students. The class sizes vary from 10 -18. The girls ages also vary from 5 to 20. All of the girls wear a uniform, which consists of a black outfit and a white scarf. The staff includes a director and about 11 teachers. The children learn the basics as well as religion or the Quran. There are four or five computers in a computer class. They also learn embroidery. The English teacher, who is Afghan, learned English in Pakistan. I am now teaching her classes as she sits in and takes notes. Sometimes I will ask her to demonstrate an activity with me, which right now is using flash cards with a partner.
The students and teachers have been so welcoming and friendly. I truly feel like an honored guest. When we take breaks between classes, we go to the office with some of the other teachers. There we will have tea, cookies, and cakes. Nobody will allow me to serve my own tea. All of the Afghans I have met have been so generous and nice. They are very gentle people who would seem to go out of their way to make one feel welcomed and at home.
Another thing that has impressed me is their desire to learn. Constantly through the day the director and some other teachers will ask me how to say something in English. They have brought in their own English books they have from home and asked me to teach some of the lessons. So after the kids leave we go to a classroom and six of the staff participates. The custodian also participates in the lessons and activities and I find this so incredible.
He does not have to learn English yet he comes and participates.
Last entry: Saying goodbye to the children and staff here in Kabul was a different sensation. I was very touched when the girls stood in the courtyard and volunteered to get their picture taken. During my first week with them I took pictures and many made sure their scarves covered their faces and they looked down into the desks, refusing to look at the lens. Now they were waving and laughing and requesting to be photographed. When they gestured me to stand with them and have another teacher take the picture of us, I was truly proud. It meant so much to feel accepted and I guess to a certain degree trusted.

A4T appreciates the work of Jeff and we hope he will return to Afghanistan. Our students and our English teachers were thrilled to have him as a coach.
Please see Jeff's BLOG for the rest of his entries and see Jeff's PHOTOS of A4T school # 1 and other photos of Afghanistan.
Camilla Barry
[Note: In December 2007 Camilla founded the non-profit organization Classrooms Across Cultures (CAC) to provide teacher-training and classroom instruction in hands-on science lessons for Afghan students.
Camilla Barry, a long-time friend of A4T, returned for the third year to conduct teacher-training in science at our A4T schools. She spent a week in late August teaching anatomy, chemistry and biology to teachers from both schools. Her 21 year old son, Nick Barry, assisted her during the one month trip to Afghanistan. Here is an excerpt of her journal:
My son Nick, a senior in college, helped teach hands-on science at the two A4T schools in Kabul in Aug. 2006. It was my third trip to these schools (5th to Afghanistan) and Nick's first. On a trip to Kabul last spring, my friend Asma Eschen had asked the school's science teacher what subjects they would like addressed and they responded, the human body. So, before going to Afghanistan, Nick and I took classes at UC Davis and UC Berkeley and tried experiments on our kitchen table.
Of the lessons we taught on the body's major systems, (circulatory, respiratory, digestive), the circulatory lesson was probably their favorite. We drew a large heart diagram in chalk in the courtyard of the schools. The heart was connected to lungs and other human organs. The teachers had to play the role of red blood cells, walking through the circulatory system, exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide and keeping track of where they were in the system. There was a lot of laughing when some of the red blood cells traveled in the wrong direction or bumped into other red blood cells. All the teachers liked using the stethoscopes; some needed encouragement to perform strenuous exercises at the pulse-reading station.
A board member had suggested that we might take the teachers and students on a field trip to a village in Farza, where A4T helped create a reservoir and water distribution system that has answered "95 percent" of the village's water problems. I said that I'd combine this field trip with a lesson on water filtration: how an individual can clean dirty water.
Nearly 110 students plus the teachers signed up for this trip and 4 buses had to be hired. I expressed my amazement to A4T's Country Director, and he answered simply that the parents trusted A4T to keep their daughters safe. I am certain this was the first field trip for the girls and teachers.
Nick first mixed up dirty water and then the students cleaned it. Local supplies (plastic bottles, gravel, sand, paper towels and water) were used to build personal water filters. A few drops of bleach were added at the end to make the water safe for drinking.

Farnaz Haji is a University of Colorado graduate who has been teaching our students Science, Farsi, and English from September to mid-November 2006. She also did some teacher training. Here is an excerpt of her letter:
So far everything at school and with A4T has been great for me and the girls have completely stolen my heart.
Since my arrival I've been teaching various subjects including English, science, math and geometry.
Due to the ongoing exams I've been focusing on preparing the students with whichever subject they have difficulties with. Beside basic classroom instructions I try to simultaneously incorporate general health and social skills in my classroom curriculum.
These girls are extremely talented and A4T schools are giving them the opportunity to take charge of their own destiny.

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