There was a heavy flood in the area surrounding Hakima Sanayee primary school. The flood damaged many agricultural lands and diminished this past year’s harvest. The school does not have classrooms; instead, students sit under the damaged tents. As we started to conduct the psychosocial activities, heavy rain started to pour. We had to shift the workshop location to the village mosque due to the damaged, unusable tents.
When we returned for a refresher training to gauge the impact of our psychosocial activities, one student, Alireza, said, “My father is an addict, and before the workshop, everyone would say to me, ‘Your father is addicted’ and ‘you are the son of a bad guy.’” I was ashamed to come and be in the classroom with others, but after the workshop, no one stigmatized me, and now I feel comfortable coming to school. His father also participated in the workshop, and his behavior towards Alireza and his siblings changed. Before the workshops, his father never asked Alireza about his lessons. He always fought with Alireza’s mother, but now his father does not fight with his mother and sometimes asks Alireza about his lessons and if he is facing any problems at school. The resilience activities positively impacted the students’ behavior by reducing stigma. Parents also understand the importance of positive interaction with their children and listening to them.
Hania, a fifth-grade female student, told us, “I come every morning to study as I want to be a physician in the future.” Hania expressed how the ‘Believe in Me’ activity further cemented her dream of becoming a physician. “When I have free time, I am interested in reading about health topics,” Hania explained. When her father got diabetes, he ended up losing his leg. Hania saw her father suffer and now dreams of becoming a doctor and curing diabetes.
Hania also talked about the ‘Reaction to Change’ activity. After the activity, Hania stated, “I understand this change [her father losing his leg] is something I need to accept, and I did not have control over it, but I have to deal with this.” Hania rationalized through the ‘Making friends with that feeling’ activity and NAIL (Name it, Accept it, Investigate it, Let it go) formula that she should not allow the negative emotions to dominate but accept these negative feelings.
Across all the schools, teachers expressed a common problem regarding managing noise during their teaching hours. Part of our training in schools was to help provide teachers with skills and activities to manage their classrooms. In Tolo Ulyato primary school, a teacher said, “Initially, after the program was implemented, it was like a fun game, and we practiced activities like ‘Slow Motion Fast Forward’ and ‘Pyramid.’ Students felt more relaxed and happy, so they stopped whispering during class.” Teachers noticed a more friendly environment between teachers and students, and fighting among students decreased. Before this training, students were saying bad words to each other, and now they are respectful and friendly to each other.
The CRAS was implemented in the targeted schools to address challenges such as a lack of teachers’ knowledge regarding class management topics and cultural sensitivity. Across the board, we were impressed by the positive feedback from students, teachers, and parents and are hopeful we can continue the CRAS training across many more regions of Afghanistan.
Written by Mohammad Arif Modaber
Edited by Mara McKown Mustafa Rfat and Jean-Francois Trani