Afghan war orphans find friends in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 November 2013 at 12:00 am

2 boys visit Albion school before heading home on Friday

Photos by Tom Rivers – Jahan Zib, a 10-year-old from Afghanistan, joins Albion fifth-graders in a friendship circle today at the school.

Albion students give Nasratullah, wearing hat, a group hug today.

ALBION – Today they ran in the elementary school gym, smiling and kicking a soccer ball. When it was time for two boys from Afghanistan to go, a group of fifth-graders gave them a group hug.

Nasratullah, 10, and Jahan Zib, 9, have spent the past two months in Orleans County through the Project Life program at the World Life Institute in Waterport.

Both boys have lost parents in the war in Afghanistan. Project Life started in 1997 and has now hosted 128 children who are orphans from the troubled lands of Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

Project Life Director Linda Redfield visited Albion Elementary School today with Jahan Zib and Nasratullah.

Four children from Chechnya spent this past summer in Waterport through the program. Project Life had not hosted an Afghan child since 2006. One Afghan boy, who spent the summer of 2002 in Waterport, is now in medical school. He connected with the Project Life program earlier this year and recommended Nasratullah and Jahan Zib.

Today they joined Project Life Director Linda Redfield in a visit to Albion Elementary School’s Multicultural Club. Redfield showed the students a power point with photos from Afghanistan and Chechnya.

She included pictures of Nasratullah and Jahan Zib when they first arrived two months ago. They appeared sad and lethargic.

“They had been drinking contaminated water and they arrived here sick,” Redfield said.

Jahan Zib kicks the soccer ball during a game with Albion fifth-graders today in the elementary school gym.

Project Life is sending water filters home with them so they don’t have to drink bad water. Nasratullah also had an eye condition that nearly blocked his vision. But with a visit to the eye doctor and medication, he doesn’t have any sight problems. He will go home well-stocked with the eye medication.

The boys were wearing their Afghan clothes today, which are made of very thin material because Redfield said it can be so oppressively hot in the country.

The boys have been staying with host families. They have been taking English classes and enjoying the fresh air, as well as good food, exercise and “careful attention,” Redfield said.

The Albion Multicultural Club said it will try to send care packages to the boys when they return to Afghanistan and try to maintain a friendship for the future.

The Afghan boys posed for a picture with the Albion Multicultural Club, which is led by ESL teacher CarmenRose Brittan, back row near center.