It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the horrible conditions that the children of Afghanistan are subjected to. The temperature in one of the main cities, Kabul, is, on average, freezing in the month of January. Snow is thick for about three months of the year making travel impossible. This makes life especially difficult for most of the population who have no cars, let alone the proper clothing and shoes to venture into the snow. The summers are equally challenging with little cloud cover and temperatures reaching about 100*F. The families must endure all this with no electricity, and sometimes even without windows in their home to block the fierce wind. The children of Afghanistan are eager to receive an education, but they must also deal with a desperation for food, water, and money.
I was touched by an article I read from the BBC News website; a correspondent there wrote about his interactions with the children of Kabul and the difficulties they face (the article was first published in 2002). He met children outside of his office in Kabul as they looked for work, usually shoe-shining. One of them was 14-year-old Nasim who took the correspondent to his home made of mud and straw, with one bedroom for six people to share, and open, glassless windows. Nasim has an older brother that had been injured in a bombing, which prevents him from working. Nasim’s street work shoe-shining earns about $1 a day. He told the correspondent that he just tried to afford bread and sugar, that rice was a treat and it had been a year since he’d eaten meat. Nasim and the other “street kids” attend a school in Kabul where they hope their ambitious attitudes will help them live a happier life one day.
Children of all ages in Afghanistan are in the streets begging for work in hopes of bringing their family a better life. Other than shoe-shining, a common occupation for children is brick building in brick factories. Due to the long hours in the factory and the children’s desperation to earn more money, 90% of those working in the factories don’t attend a school.
Personally, I cannot believe these children have full-time jobs. When I was as small as the boy and girl pictured working at a brick factory, I couldn’t even comprehend what a full-time job was, and the pressure of having to earn money for my family was non-existent. I feel so blessed now to live where I do, and to have grown up with such great educationalopportunities not only at my fingertips, but all for absolutely no cost.
As part of my many blessed academic opportunities, this semester I’m part of an Honors College class at USF that’s collecting school supplies and the funds necessary to ship them. to help children in Afghanistan. The supplies are sent to military groups who then travel to remote villages and safely deliver the supplies to smiling faces, faces that are so inexperienced in receiving a gift without being expected to give something in return.
Helping the children of Afghanistan become educated feels truly rewarding because if they are given the opportunity to become intellectual adults, then their children will also have a brighter future. Start with educating one generation and you’ll begin a ripple effect overtime and help create a community empowered with the ability to, in time, build a better economy and social structure.
Note from Kryssa’s teacher, Prof. Temple: This photo shows children waiting for US troops to deliver school supplies at a special school for street kids in Afghanistan in Dec. 2010 by volunteers from our program. The class that Kryssa is in hopes to send 120 boxes of school supplies to Afghanistan in late April 2011. If you can help these great USF Honors students meet their goal, please click here.