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A facility to protect abused children in the Afghan capital was recently completed thanks partially to the legacy of a Japanese harpist who once served as Empress Michiko’s music tutor.

The newly constructed facility, named Guru House, is operated by Aschiana, an Afghan nongovernmental organization offering education and vocational training to orphans and street children in Kabul.

It is the embodiment of an idea long harbored by Aschiana representative Mohammad Yousef, who was having trouble raising funds for the house while he was forced to vacate his own home to make room for hotel construction.

However, a bequest of 10 million yen came to his office in summer 2005 from harpist Sumire Kuwajima of Kanazawa, who had left word before she died that year at age 69 that the money should be used for children in the South Asian country.

Aschiana used the money to purchase a plot measuring about 400 sq. meters and the U.S. military in Afghanistan shouldered the cost of building the facility.

The name Guru means flower in Dari, Afghanistan’s official language. It was given to the house in connection with Kuwajima’s given name of Sumire, which means violet.

The house was inaugurated in February. It has 20 beds, a classroom and air conditioning. Social workers trained in psychology are on hand to care for the children.

Samir Naweed, a 13-year-old boy, is one of the children under the facility’s protection. Aschiana staff brought him to the house after learning he was being beaten every day at the home of his uncle. He lost his father at a young age and his mother remarried when he was 7.

Yousef said, “The future of this country depends on children. I am very grateful.”

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