Topchi Village Daily Life
|A house and mules.|
Our sister school is located in the remote village of Topchi with over 3,500 residents. The village is in rural Bamiyan province, an area once famous for the world’s tallest Buddha statues, and a part of Afghanistan with rugged mountains and river valleys, very cold winters and mild, warm summers.
Topchi is about 85 miles west of Kabul, a distance not great by American standards, but represents an arduous and hazardous 10-hour trip by road.
The village does not have running water or electricity, though a few homes do use generators run by diesel. In 2012 our sister school added solar panels that power computers supplied by CFS.
|A boy carrying straw.|
The community is multi-ethnic, predominantly Hazara, and also including Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Pashtos. Hazaras were severely persecuted under the Taliban and many families had fled to Pakistan and Iran, returning only after the Taliban were toppled in 2001.
Most families are large (with an average size of seven people) and live in homes made of clay brick. Our students’ pen pals typically describe having many brothers and sisters.
Agriculture is the main livelihood for villagers. Food crops such as potatoes, wheat, other grains, and beans are cultivated. Pen pal letters often describe some form of animal husbandry, including chickens, goats, and donkeys. Topchi students, who attend school in half-day sessions, juggle their education with daily chores including animal care, work in the fields and household tasks. Carpet weaving is also described as a family industry, with even young children participating.
|A girl jumping rope.|
The village includes at least two mosques, a health clinic, and just a few shops. Nearby Bamiyan town, 1½ hours on foot from Topchi, has a population of over 60,000. With a true commercial district, it serves Topchi in terms of supplies and services not available in the village. Students who graduate from the Topchi School and pass rigorous entry exams may continue their education at Bamiyan University.
As in much of the rest of Afghanistan, illiteracy is high, average life expectancy is low, and families live in simple homes with few amenities. But the community shows great resilience and determination; our pen pals often describe families where the sons and daughters are the first educated generation. Their parents support their schooling and their hopes for a more peaceful and prosperous future.
Please contact Amy Smoker [AmySmoker88@gmail.com] for more information.