For over a year, Skateistan Cambodia has held mobile sessions in Phnom Penh, travelling around the city to skate with our partner NGOs or in public areas. We have been working towards opening a space of our own where we can include more children and provide a higher quality of programming for some time now. We have finally done it, and our new facility is officially open!
On Saturday 22nd September over 400 Skateistan students, their families and friends students joined together with other young afghans and committee staff from a variety of Olympic federations and creative organizations. Their joint purpose was the celebration of the UN’s International day of peace and the power of sport to unite communities, cultures and people.
“I have seen terrorist attacks, I have seen my mother get beaten, I have seen my siblings crying for a piece of bread but now while preparing for peace day I can really imagine peace inside me which is hard to explain with words.”
Skateistan students have been excitedly preparing for an International Peace Day festival on Saturday September 22 at the Skateistan facility in Kabul. During the festival, 50 students will demonstrate their skills in skateboarding and climbing. There will be musical performances, a photo exhibition and other creative activities are planned to promote peace throughout the event.
Skateistan would like to extend an enormous thank you to everyone that has shared the stories of Khorshid, Parwana, Nawab, Eeza and Navid over the last couple of days, and to everyone that has made a donation. Our Emergency Fund has been fully funded and more, which is unexpected and deeply appreciated.
In these past few days it's become clear that these children not only touched our lives and those of their loved ones, but also hundreds of others in Kabul who met them in the streets over the years. Many people have reached out to us with their memories and sharing photographs that they have of the kids. The outpouring of interest can never undo what has been done, but it has restored some faith in humanity for many of us here.
Paul Carter is an American who worked in Kabul over the last few years and knew all of the children who died, he wrote: "It did my broken heart well to hear what your organization is doing for kids in Afghanistan. Watching your video of the Girls 2012 skateboarding made me realize that these kids did have a place of refuge to go, play, laugh, and enjoy their lives. They had this place because of people like you, and in this world so filled with media images reporting how bad things are, I am grateful there are people like you and Skateistan... in fact you guys make me proud of my fellow man."
Our team in Kabul has had an extremely difficult and emotional week so far, coming to terms with a huge loss, yet wanting to continue our daily activities and give our students and staff the opportunity to share their memories and their grief with each other. Each of our daily classes has included a special memorial service for the youth that passed away.
On the morning of Saturday September 8th a suicide attack in Kabul claimed the lives of a number of young Afghans. The bomb was detonated outside of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) HQ, where many of the street working children of Kabul sell trinkets, scarves and chewing gum to help support their families.
We are very sad to learn that of the six young children confirmed to have passed away, four of them were students, volunteers and youth leaders at Skateistan, who were well-loved and well-known faces for the entire team in Kabul. It is therefore with great pain and heavy hearts that we share our memories of children who were not just victims of senseless violence, but also beautiful human beings who will never be forgotten by their teachers, peers, co-workers, students, friends or family.