ONLY IN THE WORLD-HERALD
KABUL, Afghanistan — They call the orphanage Tomorrow's Hope.
It's called home by 27 Afghan children.
Their stories reflect the country's violent past and myriad problems.
Parents killed in a bombing raid. Father gunned down by the Taliban or by police. Parents with drug addictions.
Some of the children still have one parent living, but that parent can't support the little ones, so the kids end up here. The children range in age from 15 to 5, about evenly split between boys and girls.
They are various ethnicities: Pashtun, Tajik and Hazara. They go to school nearby — the director prides himself on keeping the kids' grades up.
The children sleep on pallets on the floor, divided among three bedrooms in the modest house. A woman named Fawzia oversees day-to-day operations at the facility and enforces discipline.
She moved here with her son Wazir, now 6, after she could no longer make ends meet. Her husband died in Iran after becoming addicted to drugs, she said.
Similar facilities for abandoned or orphaned children operate throughout the city. According to some estimates, Kabul is home to tens of thousands of orphans. It's a struggle for the orphanages to find funding.
Tomorrow's Hope had a benefactor, but he backed off his support recently after purchasing a new home. In the meantime, the orphanage hasn't paid its power bill in more than six months.
Tomorrow's Hope has become a project of sorts for Col. Tom Brewer, who has retired from the Nebraska National Guard and now serves in the Army Reserve. He works in Kabul as project manager for the U.S. Embassy's Border Management Task Force.
Brewer heard about Tomorrow's Hope through Piaman Sediq, a computer consultant whose wife works with Brewer.
Sediq and his mother have a foundation that aims to help poor Afghan children. They are trying to build a new facility for Tomorrow's Hope, but it could take some time to raise the $250,000 they say is needed.
Until then, Brewer is using his contacts with local contracting companies, the military and the diplomatic corps to round up support for the orphanage.
That includes hitting up the Nebraska National Guard's 1-134th Cavalry Squadron at Camp Phoenix in eastern Kabul.
“I've got a fridge from the British Embassy,” Brewer told Guard members during a recent meeting. “Clothes, books, games — that's what we need.”
The Nebraskans went to check out cargo containers on base that have been filled with supplies donated by people back home for distribution to Afghans.
Brewer and other members of the Border Management Task Force spent one recent day off delivering the clothes, shoes, bedding, toys and school supplies from Camp Phoenix to the orphanage.
They passed out candy and made some new friends.
“Their smiles brought back a feeling of hopefulness in a country surrounded by poverty and war,” according to a report of the day provided by Brewer.
Brewer said working to help the orphanage is a break from the many intractable challenges of Afghanistan: its violence, its struggling security forces, its resilient drug traffic.
“It's my way of getting away from the day-to-day things that aren't so pleasant,” Brewer said.
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