As the "Boxes For Hope" campaign winds down, I am pleased to announce the final phase of our project. What started out as a local initiative by the Brethren of Canada Lodge has spread throughout the Masonic community and has resulted in the outpouring of much more than we had anticipated. To date, we have distributed 80 Boxes of school supplies to various schools throughout the area with the aid of the KAF Bazaar School, and the Afghan School Project. We have another dozen waiting to be delivered. This will supply approximately 1000 students for the school year.
Even though it was not asked for, in addition to the school supplies received, many monetary contributions have been made as well. To date, we have received a total of $2763.52. After being discussed in Lodge, it was decided by the Brethren that we should look for a suitable project to spend this money on rather than pencils and books. There are many schools in remote areas that are in dire need of repairs and/or upgrades. We were fortunate to have two members of the US Military Civil Affairs Team, Chad Norman (initiated June 30) and Bryan Blair, petition Canada Lodge for membership. It was soon realized that this was the link to the outlying school areas we had been looking for, as reconstruction of local infrastructure is part of their mandate.
A needy school was identified and a proposal was put together. The school is the Mushan Bazaar School which lies in the Mushan district to the northeast of Kandahar. At present the school has 60 students with three teachers but only three usable classrooms and desks for 20 students. The concrete floor and patio areas are in very poor condition as is the latrine area. As well, the exterior stucco is flaking off and the outer walls severely damaged.
Tenders were put out to local contractors for the following repairs:
- Cement remaining classrooms and porch area
- Purchase desks for all rooms
- Purchase and install 3 dry erase boards (this may be substituted for chalk boards)
- Stucco and paint exterior
- Repair latrine area
- Repair exterior wall and gate
- Repair storage building for school books and materials
A contractor was chosen with a quote of 150,000 Afghans (approximately $3,400.00USD). The difference between the donations we have received and the cost of the project will be paid for out of Lodge funds donated by the Brethren here on KAF. We have a present balance of $938.20 so there is enough to cover it.
Construction was to have started in July and hopefully was completed completed before Ramadan in late August. Also upon completion, the remaining boxes of school supplies will be delivered to this school. To mitigate any concerns regarding value for our money, onsite supervision of the work was provided by the US Military Civil Affairs Team and payment was due upon final inspection and approval of the project. We of Canada Lodge hope that those who have so freely contributed to this campaign find this to be a suitable and worthwhile project.
In summary, once again the Masonic community has shown that "a Mason's charity should show no bounds save those of prudence".
(Reported by V.W. Bro. Rick Fulford, W.M. Canada Lodge Kandahar, Afghanistan)