The first time I visited the Police City Refugee Camp, I was really shocked by the situation. It was a sunny but cold day on the 7th of December 2016. Upon entering the camp, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I saw many problems, including kids who didn’t wear enough clothes in that cold weather.

I heard the voices of students studying the English alphabet, “A, B, C…” The teacher guided us to a room which belonged to the leader of the camp, Raz Mohammad. The room was so cold. I wondered how they could survive the harsh weather. I learnt from Raz Mohammad that at least fifteen to twenty people die every winter because of the cold weather.

My experience that day motivated me to draw the attention of Afghan Peace Volunteers (APV) to this issue in order to help the refugees. I am a volunteer with APV and knew they had a winter duvet project. This year 3000 duvets will be given to 1500 destitute families including refugees. People from around the globe support this winter project.

There are two main phases in the duvet project. One phase is the sewing of the duvets. Materials like wool, cotton, cloth and thread are purchased. The materials are given to seamstresses who are selected based on the needs of their households. Twenty seamstresses are selected from each ethnic and different areas in Kabul. The seamstresses receive wages for each duvet they sew. In this way, we help the families of the seamstresses to have an income and to cope with hunger and food needs.

The second phase involves the survey of poor families in different areas of Kabul. Those in greatest need are given two duvets for the winter. The history and motivation of this project goes back to 2012 when APV heard news that refugees in camps and poor people in other regions were dying because of the cold winter. Since then, we have been distributing duvets every winter.

Twenty days after my first visit, I returned to the Police City Refugee Camp with other Afghan Peace Volunteers to provide families with duvets. More than 300 duvets were packed in a big truck. When the truck arrived, people gathered around us.

At 11:00 we started distributing the duvets. Those who were selected to receive duvets already had cards. They came to the truck with their card in hand. One volunteer read the name from the card, two volunteers collected the cards and three other volunteers were inside the truck giving duvets to the families who had cards. I spent most of the time inside the truck helping to give out the quilts. I enjoyed seeing the smiles on the faces of families who were receiving the duvets. I was happy knowing that those who received blankets will survive the winter.

From 700 families in the camp, we provided two duvets each to 152 families. By 1:30 in the afternoon, our truck was empty. All the volunteers got in the truck and, as we drove away, the kids were running after us, happy and smiling. They reminded me of my childhood in war and the ongoing war in Afghanistan. I am hopeful that one day Afghanistan will have peace and we will live in a green, equal and nonviolent world. The kids will remember us with our truck, the blankets and happy faces. And we will remember their big smiles as they ran after us when we drove away.

The remaining 548 families at the Police City Refugee Camp will receive duvets in the next rounds. Although this project is not a long-term solution for these people, APV provides micro-loans for people to start small businesses. Also, we are promoting permaculture as a long-term solution for poor people in Afghanistan. Every effort helps and I am happy to be a part of these efforts.



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