While Afghanistan faces a deep and huge crisis due to regime change and economic collapse we are implementing the Child Resiliency Afghanistan Study in southern Afghanistan, to promote the resiliency skills of children to protect themselves against the crisis.
The CRAS project was implemented in 10 intervention and 10 control schools in Jaghori, Malistan, and Ghazni City. The program included psychosocial activities and Group Model Building (GMB) workshops. The targeted group for the program was children in primary schools, their teachers, and their parents. Our project started with psychosocial activities implemented with each group followed by GMB workshops to find the impact of the psychosocial activities through the understanding of causal feedback loops in the Causal Loop Diagrams (CLD) created during the GMBs.
In spite of many challenges including unfamiliarity with resilience activities for teachers, parents, and children, climate issues at the time of implementation because of heavy floods, and some barriers created by the Taliban due to their own religious principles, the program was still able to be implemented successfully.
One of the program’s goals was to decrease domestic violence. Two activities were shared with parents. One was a positive discipline activity and the second was a conflict leader activity. Both activities were taught to help parents manage their anger at home. One parent shared “ I work in the market, I have a small stall selling vegetables, the situation in the bazaar has been getting worse and this work cannot pay for my family expense. One day when I was coming back from work I was very angry and I behaved violently with one of my family members and could not control my anger. From the workshop, I learned new tactics for managing my emotions and ways of behaving positively with children and other family members. Now when I get angry I leave the situation and walk around allowing me to think about possible positive solutions and reflect on my anger.”
During this continual war, many families lost family members or experienced traumatic situations. Habiba, a sixth grade female student shared her experience, “Last year I lost my grandmother and it was a very sad and tragic moment for me.” One of the activities done by our team was called ‘Cross the Line’. In this activity, students step to the other side of the line if a statement was true for them. Habiba said “When I first crossed the line I felt that day’s sorrow and sadness but when I saw that four of my classmates also followed me and crossed the line, I felt better and I thought ‘I am not alone’.” When they all went back to the starting location they got together hugged each other and cried. Habiba elaborated “After that we knew more about each other and I feel very close to my classmates who have had the same experience.” While Habiba was happy that many of her other classmates have not experienced such sorrow and sadness in their life, she does understand that dying is a natural part of human life. Habiba reflected that this activity reminded her that many people have experienced suffering and bad memories and this activity helps them all realize each person has their own personal stories allowing them to change their behavior to include empathy at the forefront of each interaction.
Written by Mohammad Arif Modaber
Edited by Mara McKown and Jean-François Trani