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The House of Flowers

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan
Website: www.mepoonline.org
Program Established: 2002
# of Children: 30 Ages Served: 3-18
Immediate Needs:
  1. Operating Funds for basics such as food, shoes, clothing, building costs, and staffing.
  2. Elementary Montessori materials.

Contact Person: Allison Lide
Contact Information: mepo.hope@gmail.com

The House of Flowers is a Montessori-based orphanage and school, a small oasis in the rough and often child-unfriendly environment of Afghanistan. It was founded by a small non-profit organization, MEPO, (Medical, Educational and Peace Organization) in 2002. Its founders, Allison Lide and Mostafa Vaziri, knew that children coming from such decimating backgrounds were most needful of the soul-strengthening effects of a Montessori environment.

They began in 2002 with 5 children, a new young teacher, and a stack of Montessori literature. Slowly they worked with the teacher and the house staff and shared with them the basic principles of Montessori education for life. It was an experiment for them all; none were sure if Montessori principles would ‘work’ in such a harsh and aggressive environment. They watched carefully as the number of children and the teacher’s understanding grew. The children began to thrive and the teacher marveled.

Less than a year later, Allison traveled to Bergamo, Italy and studied under Baiba Krumins and the late Camillo Grazzini. (He passed away during that year.) She received her AMI Elementary Montessori certification and in 2004 returned to Kabul to continue to strengthen the House of Flowers.

Since that time, she has worked closely with the staff and teachers in training them in the use of Montessori materials and techniques, telling the cosmic fables and encouraging independent learners. Sharing the psychological principles of child development has also been crucial for maintaining a consistent and supportive environment for the children.

In May 2012, the House of Flowers has 30 children ages 3 to 18, and two teachers. They conduct two multiage classes daily and use Montessori materials that have been sent by generous donors. Visitors who come to the House are amazed at the children’s confidence, their level of knowledge and awareness of the world, and their respectful and joyful behavior. Our experiment has proven itself: we have not a single doubt in the power of the Montessori philosophy to provide children exactly what they need to become strong and clear individuals. The inner strength they have gained will be an absolute necessity in their futures, which are uncertain and unpredictable.

Work at the House of Flowers by Allison and Mostafa and the staff continues as the children grow and progress through the second plane of development. At this crucial stage, much energy is devoted to the children’s exploration of humanity, and the results of this are evident daily as the children become more and more compassionate and caring about the world around them, something desperately needed today.

Allison and Mostafa are also hoping to expand this vision of Montessori schools in Afghanistan with a goal of establishing Montessori classes in the large city orphanages in Kabul. Children there desperately need the inner strengthening that can happen so powerfully in a Montessori environment, and the teachers will also benefit greatly from hearing a new perspective on children’s lives.

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