A Good Sign: Afghan School for Vulnerable Children

Kabul school

A teacher demonstrates sign language at a school in Kabul run by ANAD, the Afghanistan National Association of the Deaf. Her hands are painted with henna, a traditional decoration. Photo by Laura Sheahen/CRS

“After Chaghcharan, Kabul seems like a metropolis–paved roads!” Dean Carolyn Woo’s first impression of Afghanistan’s capital was understandable
after four days visiting villages reachable mainly by four-wheel drive. But there are plenty of needy people in Kabul, of course, and CRS board member Woo met some of the city’s most vulnerable children on Tuesday.

Kabul’s only school for the deaf doesn’t feel silent. Energy and enthusiasm are palpable in every classroom, where 250 children study subjects like
math, science, reading, writing, and sign language. Run by the Afghanistan National Association of the Deaf, and partially supported by the Ryan Memorial Foundation and the Sieben Foundation, the school serves children who might otherwise be forgotten. CRS funds its accelerated learning classes, sign language classes, teacher training, and field trips to places like farms or the zoo.

Woo watched as children demonstrated their reading and math skills. Later,she joined the audience as the children put on a skit and waved their hands in applause. She also saw the 4,000-word Afghan/sign language dictionary the association has published; it is Afghanistan’s only one. Children grinned broadly as they told Woo about their favorite subjects, and broke for recess at midday to play soccer.

“You can feel such happiness radiating from the children,” said Woo. “The school is truly a joyful place.”

Kabul student

A deaf girl reads an English textbook at a school for the deaf in Kabul run by ANAD, the Afghanistan National Association of the Deaf. Photo by Laura Sheahen/CRS

– Reported by Laura Sheahen, CRS regional information officer for Asia and the Pacific Rim

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4 Responses to “A Good Sign: Afghan School for Vulnerable Children”

  1. j.r. Says:

    We have an Afghan student in our sign language class at the high school level here in Colorado. Could anyone describe for me the sign for Afghanistan? She would like to know. Thankyou!

  2. Mike Says:

    I am looking for the same sign- must be a video link somewhere. Surprised its not in ASL dictionaries. Just wanted it for some storytelling. I am doing Michael Morpungo “Shadow” book -great perspective.

  3. Mike Says:


    I think the sign here would be the one.

  4. Grace Says:

    I am so thrilled to learn about Deaf School set up in Afghanistan and I would like to know their mailing address so I could send some items in mail for the deaf children. I look forward to further communication with CRS via email ASAP!

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