Street children in Kabul call for peace, seek education

Date of Publication : Wednesday 19 January 2011 10:38
Street children in Kabul call for peace, seek education
) -- As the Taliban-led insurgency is continuing unabated in the war-torn Afghanistan, the suffering Afghan children, like their parents, are lamenting the protracted war and seeking peace and schooling.
"We want peace. We want better life. We have been fed up with the continued war. Enough is enough. My prime desire is to go to school in a peaceful environment," Hamid, 8, told Xinhua's scribe here in Afghan capital city Kabul.
Hamid went on to say, "My dream is to become a doctor and serve my people."
The protracted war and civil strife have caused Hamid's father to lose his leg, leaving the naive Hamid alone to serve as the only bread earner of four-member family.
Nevertheless, the disability of his father and poverty has forced the ambitious Hamid to forget childhood's joy, but to shoulder family burden to survive.
"To materialize my dream, I am working hard and I go to school half day besides working on the street to earn money and support family," Hamid continued.
Portraying his hardship, the forced labor child who cleans cars in the chilly weather of Kabul said, "I earn 30 to 80 Afghanis from afternoon to dusk." The exchange rate of the U.S. dollar to Afghan national currency Afghani is about 1:45.
The meager income is too little to buy daily needs of a four-member family in Kabul where the skyrocketing prices have squeezed ordinary people.
"I have been forced to join thousands of street children in Kabul and continue to work as the only bread earner for my family, " Hamid said, if without donation from the well-off and social organizations, the family could not survived.
Economic problems, continued war and displacement of people have forced many children to work on the streets and support their families.
The ongoing conflicts and Taliban-linked insurgency are destructive for civilians especially to children, another child, Hamayoon, 12, whispered.
"Taliban insurgents keep infiltrating into the city to launch terror attacks. This war is more dangerous for children in big cities," Hamid added.
The recent Taliban attack in Kabul was a suicide bombing on Jan. 12, which left three dead including the bomber and injured 32 others with overwhelming of them civilians.
An Afghan non-governmental organization (NGO) -- Aschiana has been collecting street children and provides shelter, education and vocational courses to them.
"There are between 60,000 to 70,000 street children only in capital city Kabul," Director of Aschiana, Mohammad Yousef, told Xinhua recently.
Aschiana, a non-governmental organization based in Kabul, which in Dari means "nest" has branches in several Afghan cities to help street children.
However, there is no official statistics about the number of street children in the militancy-hit Afghanistan.
"We pick up children from streets and after providing education or working skills integrate them to society," Yousef said.
In addition to Aschiana, there are some orphanages run by Afghan government, Afghan Red Crescent Society and some foreign NGOs in Kabul and other Afghan cities provide shelters and education to street children.
Around 12 million school-aged children, according to officials with Afghan Education Ministry, are in Afghanistan and out of these: over seven million go to school.
President Hamid Karzai in his speech after beating the bill of educational year in March 6, 2010 confirmed that 5 million or 42 percent of school aged children do not have access to school in Afghanistan.
Afghan Minister for Education Farooq Wardak admitted early March 2010 that over 200,000 children had been deprived of schooling due to the closure of 442 schools in the country mostly in the southern region where Taliban militants are active. 
Story Code: 39204