Together with our wonderful host Shahram we made 140 children of a school near Sarpol happy with new clothes
Kouick Majid, just outside Sarpol, is one of five “Kouick Villages” that were almost completely destroyed during the November 2017 earthquake, with the highest death toll percentage of 150 people out of just over 1000 inhabitants. The image of the entire region and especially Sarpols is characterized by ruins. Throughout the city, every third plot of land is either completely empty or there are iron flukes sticking out of the ground. These represent the remnants of those houses that have become uninhabitable due to the earthquake.
Our host family, like any other in the city, was badly affected by the disaster. Almost every member of the family suffered material damage but, miraculously, no one had died in the immediate family. The majority had lost entire houses or their home was so damaged in their statics that they preferred to sleep in containers in front of their homes. Especially the 80 years old mother of our host preferred to sleep in front of the house in a container. She had been lucky in the quake of magnitude 7.3 and survived physically unscathed on the third floor of her house, which had lost almost all the walls. Her concern was not unfounded. Only 2 days before our arrival, there had been another quake of magnitude 5.3. We were told that on average every two weeks there is a noticeable quake. However, this experience was spared during our time on the ground.
The catastrophe, which took place less than a year and a half ago that day in November, was still omnipresent, leaving us with an unreal feeling. Everyone had returned to their everyday life and apart from us nobody seemed to pay much attention to the countless construction sites, tents and containers that dominate the cityscape. The economic problems of the country, caused by the American and European sanctions, which drove the depreciation of the Rial into absurdity, further intensify the already difficult financial expenditure, Shahram told us. They are the reason why most of the reconstruction work is done by the local population and it will take a long time until the cityscape returns to its former beauty.
So much for the background of the last donation.
On Wednesday last week we visited the Loghman School for the first time and discussed with the teachers in what form we could do some good for the children. With some media attention for the small village that was at the center of the disaster, the school was well stocked with school supplies and we were told that many children lacked clothing.
So the next day we went in search of said clothes in the 70,000-inhabitant town of Sarpol. We searched the small shops of the shopping streets, as we had set the goal to support the local salesmen. It turned out to be a real challenge to procure shoes, jackets or sweaters of the same quality and model in the quantities that we needed to be able to provide an entire school. For logistical reasons, we assigned one type of clothing to every two grades. At a total of six stores, we managed to get everything together. For the first and second grade we bought jackets, for the third and fourth shoes and for the fifth and sixth sweaters. Most of the stores made at least the biggest sales of the month, if not the year, with Travel for Smiles, and it made us very happy to support a few more people in this way.
Loaded with around 50 shoeboxes and three huge bags of sweaters and jackets, we arrived back at the school on Saturday afternoon. Together with the director we ran from class to class and distributed what we had brought. To our amazement everything was very well organized, which was probably the effect of being in a classroom. The kids waited patiently until they were called and we tried our best to guess their size. There was a cheerful mood and a few giggles accompanied the distribution.
For € 687.27 we bought 140 pieces of clothing.
Shahram was a great help throughout the process. He helped us negotiate with the salesmen, drove us around, and translated diligently with his fluent English. Frank (not his real name but he asked us to call him that 😊) also supported us energetically. He’s also the one that took the photos during the distribution and he also occasionally took the role of interpreter.
Translation to english by Mila T. <3