Sam’s House Afghanistan was set up to support children living in a children’s home in the centre of Kabul. The children had no access to toys and rarely ventured out of the house where they were living. Many of the children were disabled or had developmental delay which made it difficult within a country and culture such as Afghanistan. The children initially were very quiet and withdrawn.
We began by spending time with the children’s carers, talking and listening to their stories, allowing their voice to be heard. The carers were able to play with the equipment at Sam’s house, to dress up and to laugh. By allowing the carers of these children to relax and be “a child again” if for only a brief moment allowed them to see the importance of play.
As the children visited the centre we saw a closer connection between the children and carers, they painted masks together, swung on the swings and in the midst of war in Afghanistan the children and carers had fun.
Over the time Sam’s House was running we saw a significant change in the children. Some of the children became a lot more energetic and would bounce to their hearts content on the trampoline and race around the yard, and others would prefer the calm of our sensory area with bubble tubes and tactile toys. Others could suddenly paint circles and do things they had previously struggled to do. It was wonderful to see the children respond to play and arts and crafts in such a positive way.
Afghanistan however still remains a very volatile country. A decision was taken to sadly close Sam’s House Afghanistan due to the threat levels at that time. We were able however to leave specialist equipment and toys with another NGO within the country.
It’s also important to note that our main focus is to impart a positive role on the carers we meet, where we can teach what we know in an unassuming way. That by playing and laughing with them it releases hope. So when we do have to leave they can move forward and go on to encourage others, and to look after the children in a positive way.