The weather in Bamyan these days is cloudy and so cold that we feel cold to the bone. These days, the number of working children in Bamyan has increased. Children, most of whom are the breadwinners of their families. I sat in the corner of Bamyan Bazaar in Peace Park, where most of the children in the city, most of whom are Espandi, gather these days, and I stared at them. Because there are immature children and those who have experience in this field teach newcomers.
Something catches my eye. A young girl and boy are found in the park, and the children of Espandi run towards them as soon as they see them. I know them, a young couple who have helped Bamiyan working children in these cold and difficult days with the help of an organization called “Help Afghan Street Children Org (HASCO)”.
Morteza Eghbalzadeh and Zakia Omid, a young couple who started working to help children in Bamiyan after the fall of the government to the Taliban, have been helpers of children these days.
About four months ago, the couple launched an online fundraising campaign to help working children with the slogan “Join us to support working children.”
Zakia Omid told Nimrokh: “With the fall of the Afghan government and the rising unemployment rate in all parts of the country, especially in Bamyan province, the number of working children has increased, most of them are Espandi, even though these children do not earn more than 100 afghanis a day but they have to work unless they and their families may starve to death.
The couple has so far distributed food packages and warm winter clothes to more than 80 families of working children in Bamyan with the help of donors.
Morteza also told Nimrokh: “The food and clothing donations that they have distributed to the families of these children are very small.” “With the first aid he and his colleagues have provided, more than 300 low-wage children are working hard in Bamyan,” he added.
The couple, along with a number of other young people, has voluntarily started working for families of working children to seek help.
Zakia added that in the beginning, when they started, their only goal was to attract the attention of donors and food aid for working children in Bamyan and other provinces, but after realizing that many donors are working with them for working children, they expanded their help.
By registering their organization, these young people have lofty goals for working children. They told Nimrokh: “They are trying to create a healthier environment for working children to continue their education by getting more help, as well as setting up short-term workshops for these children so that they can become independent and no longer have to work hard and receive low wages.”
According to a report released by the United Nations Children’s Fund, about 10 million children in Afghanistan need food aid to survive. The organization says that about one million children are suffering from acute malnutrition this year.
The report goes on to say that about 4.2 million children are out of school, of which 2.2 million are girls.
Translated by: Jahan Raha