The drama of Garana's life

Garana's story can be dramatised to raise funds for Children Helping Children, suggests Gerald Haigh

The production could be staged as a continuous performance on parents'

evening, a special assembly for parents and visitors, an evening or afternoon performance, or an addition to a scheduled concert. Funds can be raised in conjunction with this by:

* making sure there's plenty of publicity - for example, through the school newsletter;

* taking a collection on the day;

* selling programmes designed by the pupils ("even if you can't come, please buy a programme").

Ask the children for more ideas - they're always good at this.

Photocopy the story for the class and read it together. Then use the facts and ideas below for class discussion.

Facts

* Afghanistan is in Asia, north-west of Pakistan and east of Iran. It is an arid country, with bitterly cold winters and hot summers.

* Afghanistan is an Islamic country and the majority of the population are Sunni Muslims.

* The country has been ravaged by wars for almost the whole time since it gained independence from British control in 1919. The Soviet Union invaded in 1979 but had to withdraw in 1988. This was followed by a period of instability that ended with the Taliban - a strict religious group - taking control of most of the country in 1996. The Taliban government was never fully recognised in the West, and was under constant criticism for harbouring terrorists. The United States blamed Afghanistan-based Osama bin Laden for the the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001, and embarked on a campaign to destroy terrorist cells in the country and to remove the Taliban government.

lAll services and infrastructure have been damaged or destroyed by years of war.

* About three newborn babies in every 20 die in infancy. Average life expectancy is about 46 years.

* Around 5 to 7 million land mines are believed to have been planted in Afghan soil. Many have been there for 20 years and are still active.

lMillions of people have gone to live as refugees in nearby nations, particularly Pakistan. Six million left during the war with the Soviet Union. More than 4m are still living as refugees. The greatest numbers are in Afghanistan (1.14m), Pakistan (2m), Iran (1.5m), and thousands more in India, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Feelings Talk to children about cold and hunger, homelessness, lack of access to water, education, and medical care. What do these do to family and community life? Discuss, in particular, how family life and culture are kept up in Garana's family - for example, religious observance and children's games. Families in difficult circumstances gain strength from keeping routines and traditions. What do the children think would be important if they were in a similar position?

Class drama or assembly The story of Garana is very suitable for dramatisation. Separate out the dialogue and convert it to play format, perhaps with a narrator, or ask the class to do this themselves, working in groups. Then present the story, with dignity and in quiet mood. The dialogue can be learned or improvised (based on the words of the story); or it can be read by a narrator while the story is mimed. Keep costumes simple and sketchy - too much accuracy risks parody. Aim for a contemplative mood, with pauses for thought. If it suits the school ethos, finish with prayer or quiet reflection with a lighted candle for focus. At appropriate points, the narrator should insert some illustrative facts - include those given above, and you could use this information about water: you need 30 to 40 litres of water a day for good health. You are likely to use around 5 litres if you have to walk 2.5km to get it, 25 litres if you have to walk 250m, and about 75 litres if you have it on tap at home.

Further information and teaching ideas supporting the TES-UNICEF Children Helping Children campaign can be found at www.tes.co.uk afghanistan, including a downloadable, photocopiable photo-pack. Further resources will be published in The TES each week until the end of July. To pledge money see the advertisement on page 34.

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