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I am an Indian American Volunteer at ‘Afghan Women Forward.’ Afghan Children Need Our Help. Please Donate

I am an Indian American Volunteer at ‘Afghan Women Forward.’ Afghan Children Need Our Help. Please Donate

  • Taliban’s restrictions on girls' education and endemic poverty are stifling the lives and aspirations of children. The world has turned its back on them. We should not.

The crisis in Afghanistan was something I had always known about, lingering in the back of my mind or through news stories floating through the halls of my already noisy house. It was just another emergency in the world, something that needed to be taken care of, but perhaps not by me. 

I’m a high schooler living in Brooklyn, and most of what was happening on the other side of the planet didn’t seem to have that much to do with me. Earlier this year I was introduced to ABAAD, Afghan Women Forward, by Sunita Viswanath of Hindus for Human Rights. She is my parents’ close friend and has known me since I was little. She spoke about it to me in passing, not as something she was hoping to involve me in, but to let me know what was happening in her life. I pressed and soon found myself interning at ABAAD. I had always thought that trying to make a real difference halfway across the world from where the issue was would be close to impossible, but I was wrong. A few weeks ago I had the privilege of participating in a video call with children from Afghanistan whose lives have been impacted by the Taliban take-over. Here are a few of their stories.

In August 2021, the Taliban issued an order preventing girls from attending secondary school, citing pretexts ranging from wanting to review the uniform to curriculum issues. This immediately stopped many young girls seeking an education past sixth grade, such as Krishma. She is an 11-year-old girl who would have been in the 7th grade had she not been prevented from attending school. She was forced to stop going to school last year. Every day, when her second-grade brother comes home, he shares what he learned that day. They often work together to learn to spell tricky words in the hopes that Krishma can continue her education. Krishma wants to become a doctor and a teacher when she grows up, but in her current circumstances, it would be impossible for her to even pass high school. Her message to the world is to educate yourself and to always help others.

With donations, ABAAD plans to help children get access to education, to get proper medicine, and have a chance to eat their favorite foods for the first time in years.

Hasinat is 10 years old. She is another Afghan girl who can no longer go to school but for a different reason. Hasinat cannot go to school because of her family’s financial situation. Her parents could no longer afford to pay rent on their house and were forced to move to another province without a school. Now, the only way for Hasina to continue her education is by moving back to the old province which is financially infeasible. 

Aside from education, Hasinat’s life has been devastated in other ways due to her family’s extreme poverty. Hasinat hasn’t had her favorite food, Chablis Kabob, in over two years because her family cannot afford the ingredients. Her mother is sick, and cannot afford medicine, and so Hasinat helps around the house to ease her burden. Hasinat hopes to become a Quran teacher when she grows up and share her love of the Quran with the world.  

Sadaf is a 10-year-old girl in the fourth grade. She has a large family, ten members in all, and when she is bored she often makes pillow forts with her younger sisters. She has dreams of being a doctor. Sadaf is one of many Afghan children facing extreme poverty right now. Her diet mainly consists of tea, bread, carrots, and shola, a kind of cheap rice. Her mother is very sick, and her family doesn’t have enough money to take her to the hospital. They can’t afford medicine, and as a result, many people in her family are chronically ill. All ten members of her family are jobless and cannot find work, and her mother often worries she will not have enough money to feed her kids. Like Hasinat, Sadaf hasn’t been able to eat her favorite food, a kabob, in almost three years. 

Samir and his sister, Marwa, both don’t have national ID cards. This means that they cannot do a lot of things they would normally be able to, like go to school, as Marwa is not yet in sixth grade. Only men can get ID cards, and so their mothers cannot help them. They also can’t afford the stationary that would be necessary for school. They also cannot afford any toys, so Samir and Marwa often race their siblings for fun. Marwa loves shawarma, but the last time she had it was four years ago. 

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Farhad is 11 years old in fourth grade. He, like Samir and Marwa, cannot afford a toy, so he races his 7-year-old brother for fun. He wants to become a teacher when he grows up, despite extreme poverty and lack of resources. 

Aryan is 12 years old and was in the third grade. Like many others, his family faces extreme poverty. Most of his meals mirror Sadaf’s — they consist of shola, and when they can not afford even that, they turn to bread and tea. The Taliban have decreed that if a student does not have books for class, they are no longer permitted to be in school. Aryan can no longer afford to pay for books and has been forced to stop his education. He has mobility issues and is always fidgeting. To fill up his time normally used by the school, Aryan uses a slingshot to aim at bottles. His greatest wish is to own a car and a bicycle and to be able to go everywhere with his car. He hopes he one day doesn’t ever have to worry about anything ever again. 

The situation in Afghanistan has swiftly become worse as time passes. As the rest of the world slowly turns its back on these children, it’s important that we don’t as well. With donations, ABAAD plans to help children get access to education, to get proper medicine, and have a chance to eat their favorite foods for the first time in years. With a donation to ABAAD, you will not only be helping children and families with basic needs, but proving that change is possible, even amid a crisis.

Amritha Purohit is a high school freshman in Brooklyn, New York. She is passionate about literature, volunteering, and art.

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