Nadia Stone reports on ARRC in Afghanistan
REPORTER Nadia Stone, who spent a week with the Allied Rapid Reaction Corp in Kabul, discovers how ARRC personnel are supporting the country.
CHILDREN come running out of the building as we arrive, greeting us with wide smiles.
"Hi," they each say in turn, their voices following me as I head towards the front door of their home.
They follow me inside, watching as we carry the boxes of toys. The centre is called Mehan, meaning homeland, and is it just that for around 75 girls.
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Of these, 25 are orphans from Yakhchal, in Helmand, whose parents were killed in the Taliban massacre of 2000.
For the other 50 girls who live here, it is a safe house as their home villages have become too dangerous for them to stay.
One girl, Hagama, I was told, saw her older sister set herself on fire because she could not cope with the cruel violence she had to endure everyday. Her parents were so worried about her that they arranged for her to move to the centre, in the heart of Kabul.
Andeisha Farid, who runs the home, tells me that it is not safe for young girls in many areas as they face violence from men who want them to stay at home.
"We give them somewhere safe to be," she said.
"There are many threats for them. It was just last year that some girls were attacked with acid on the way to school. They can even get shot. Afghanistan is still such a dangerous place for a woman."
Another girl, Mahbooba made fantastic progress when she came to Kabul, I am told.
"She came from a very isolated area," said Andeisha. There were no roads and they had always been by themselves. They even had their own language. When she came here, nobody could understand her because she only had their own language.
"She now speaks five languages, including English and Italian, and she's now 16 and in Italy on a scholarship.
"If she had stayed in her home village she would have had children by now, but I'm 100 per cent sure she could become a good leader for her country."
Andeisha, herself only 28, set up her first centre after seeing how girls were dropping out of school because they faced violence on the way. In 2004, she opened the first home for 25 children. She said there were 1.6m children either living on the streets or forced into child labour in Afghanistan, and she wished she could help them all.