After the announcement of a controversial result in Afghanistan’s presidential election and amid extreme uncertainty and complexity, the Afghan people finally heard pleasing and long-awaited news: the signing of a peace agreement with the Taliban.
After 18 years of conflict, the announcement brought smiles to the faces of many. However, the poor and homeless street children, who have lost their beloved parents to the war, need more than peace. What does this dubious agreement mean to them? Will it put an end to their daily struggles?
For Farhad, an 11-year-old boy with eyesight issues, the future is uncertain. “I lost my father in a suicide attack in a military hospital in Kabul two years ago,” he said. Farhad needed to leave school during grade four to sell eggs to support his three smaller brothers, sister, and sick mother. How can the peace agreement better Farhad’s life?
More Than Peace
While people see peace as an opportunity to end war, children have a different perspective. To them, peace means a place to shelter, some food to eat, and most of all, going to school. A staggering 3.7 million Afghan children are not in school.
For me, it’s personal. I lost my family in a brutal, genocide-like attack nineteen years ago, when I was only three. As an orphan who lived through more than twelve years in Kabul orphanages, I needed more than the signing of a peace agreement. I needed love and kindness.
I have never felt the love and support of a mother and a father because they were taken away from me. Sadly, my story is similar to that of thousands of other Afghan children. The same extremists that the U.S. government signed a peace agreement with took their parents away too.
Children of Kabul
I see thousands of homeless children working and begging outside, especially in the coldest winter days and nights. I interviewed fifteen of them on the crowded streets of Kabul. These children have either left school because they had to make money to support their families, or never started.
Nabila is an 8-year-old girl whose everyday job is to beg for money to take home. Her father is a drug addict that beats her and her mother to go out and find him money. Nabila described peace as “having a notebook and pen to go to school with and study.”
These children want a pair of shoes and warm clothes, a place to shelter, and someone to hold them, take care of them, and love them. They want to go to school instead of working on the streets. Every night they go to bed hungry.
Sarfenaaz, a 5-year-old girl who sells pens just one kilometer away from the presidential palace, lost her father a few months ago due to severe sickness. With three sisters and a brother, her mother begs for money to pay their rent. As tears were coming down her beautiful and innocent eyes, she said, “My mother is very sick because our house is very cold.” Sarfenaaz is passionate about education. “I want to go to school. I want to become a teacher,” she said with hope.
After almost two decades of war, the historic agreement that would pave the way to ending Afghanistan’s conflict is a step in the right direction. But can the deal improve Farhad’s life? Will it mean that Nabila can finally attend to school? Can it fulfill Sarfenaaz’s dream of becoming a teacher?
Afghan children need more than just peace.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.