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Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan

by Action for Development (AfD)
Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan
Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan
Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan
Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan
Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan
Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan
Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan
Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan
Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan
Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan
Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan
Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan
Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan
Street Children Back to School, Afghanistan

Back to school program

Afghanistan is one of the least developed countries in the world; it is estimated that in 2018, 54% of the population was living below the poverty line. 

A country’s poverty indicator is the presence of minors working on the streets. In Afghanistan, 29% of children aged 5 to 17 years old are engaged in child labour. In 2018, nearly half of all school-aged children were not attending school. This represents 3.7 million children, 60% of whom are girls.

The education of children and young adults, representing the men and women of tomorrow, is paramount for a sustainable and peaceful development of the country. 

This is the context in which Action for Development founded, in 2016, the “School for street children” program, driven by the objective of giving children the opportunity of having access to education.

The program aims at providing marginalized children with access to flexible education, extinguishing inequality, poverty and child labour.

By attending the program’s school, children are given the opportunity to learn basic numeracy and literacy skills, as well as to develop social abilities through for example practicing a sport, particularly football; it also enables them to have access to a regular schooling programme in the future. This program contributes to reducing the level of illiteracy among children in Afghanistan.  

Children are selected for the program according to pre-defined criteria: being between the age of 5 and 15 years old, having no access to formal education, and originating from households with little or unstable income. 

Since the beginning of the program in 2016, AfD has opened 3 education centres in Kabul, in 3 different districts: 

-      Kart-e-Char, 3rd District of Kabul: this is one of the biggest neighbourhoods of the city, where many children gather regularly to work; the first school was established in October 2016, with 12 children attending.

-      Baburshah: located in the central area of Kabul, further classrooms were established to cater to the high number of street children. 

-      Khuja Buhgra District: afternoon classes are provided at AfD’s local Health Center in addition to a daily meal. For many of the children attending these classes, it is the first and only meal of the day. 

In addition to the schooling program, children can benefit from access to health services provided at AfD’s Comprehensive Health Centre in Kabul. 

In 2018, AfD’s schooling program went from having enrolled 58 children to 201 children by the end of the year. At the Kart-e-Char’s center alone, AfD was able to provide 16.566 meals to children.

2018 also witnessed the introduction of a sport program: a football field, dry and safe, dedicated for the children to train and play each week; a football coach was hired. An important objective of this programme is raising awareness on the benefits of regular physical activity for children; this would also allow communities to accept girls joining the sports program. 

The schooling programme for 2018 at a glance:

  • 3 schooling centres, 9 classrooms in total;
  • 1 school coordinator, 5 teachers, 1 football coach, 1 cook;
  • 201 children enrolled;
  • 80 boys playing football regularly;
  • 16.566 meals offered at the Kart-e-Char’s center.

 

 Children with disabilities 

Parween Azimi, Founder of the school for children with disabilities:

“The students in our school learn how to use sign language and to communicate with their hands. The fact that people in the community are unable to use sign language, motivates the pupils to attend our school, since they can be in a place where they can be understood and understand others.

With a vocational training, children learn the necessary skills to become self-reliant in the future. It is difficult for persons with disabilities to find employment, even when having knowledge of English or computer science. Many organizations do not trust them because of their disability, in this particular case hearing loss. It is important for us to raise awareness among the community that young adults with disabilities can be capable of assuming regular job roles.

In the next 20 years, we should aim at giving all children of Afghanistan access to education”. 

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« It’s true, I am a child and I work on the street, but I have a lot of ambitions », recounts Rameen - 11 years old, living in Kabul, Afghanistan. Rameen is one of 186 pupils at the three Action for Development (AfD) schools for street working children.  He lives in a family of eight, including his three brothers and two younger sisters. A few months ago, Rameen’s eldest sibling died in a car accident at work. This tragic event was an enormous shock for his family.

Rameen and his two remaining brothers found themselves obliged to work to support the family as their 65-year-old father suffers from health problems. Although their father is limited in the amount of work he can do he tries to keep himself active and does some light work selling plastic items to help to feed his family.

« My sisters are too young to think about work. However, my little brother aged 7, started working at the livestock. » explains Rameen. The boys have little choice but to work but are motivated by the love of their family,  « The most import thing in my life is my family, as long as I have the ability to, I will help them. » Rameen.

Rameen starts his day early, waking at 6am to go to work near his home, where he washes cars on the street. When there are no cars to wash, he earns a little money by bringing water to local households. At 11 o’clock, he begins classes at the AfD school for street working children located near his workplace. The center welcomes children like Rameen, providing them with a hot lunch as well as literacy and numeracy classes. For some of the children, this is the only meal they will receive during the day. After 3 hours at the centre, Rameen goes back to work until night, «When I finish my work, I buy something for my family with the money I have collected», shares Rameen.

Rameen’s family reunites in their 2-room home each evening to eat dinner together. On the menu, either beans or boiled potatoes. « We live in an old house where every corner of the two rooms is a place to sleep in. Without any water access, we don’t have a proper kitchen, so my mom cooks at the entrance of the corridor » explains Rameen. With no television at home, the family usually spends the evenings sharing stories about their day.  

Rameen’s neighborhood is populated with other families who share the same difficulties and hardships, but the boys find some time for fun with friends,

« There are many neighbors around my house and their sons are my friends. I go to work all days, but during days off, like Friday, I play football with them next to my house » Rameen.

AfD’s education project aims to support street working children like Rameen by providing them with education, regular meals and health check-ups.  Our main objective is to provide the children with the opportunity to build a better future for themselves and their communities.  We do this by teaching literacy and numeracy skills to a level that gives the children the possibility of integrating into the mainstream educational system.  With sufficient funding, we will provide those children with the necessary financial support to be able to pursue their education without placing financial strain on their families.

« The biggest fear of my life is to lose my family and my biggest ambition is to become a doctor », Rameen.

If you would like to support our work with street working children to help children like Rameen realise their ambitions please go to :http://www.actfordev.org/a-day-in-the-life-of-rameen/

Kabul, August 16th 2018. The latest in a series of attacks on schools. At least 34 people were killed by the suicide bomb; most of them young Afghans studying for their exams. Schools are an easy target for militant groups; more than 1000 are now closed for security reasons, and at least 86 have been destroyed by militant attacks this year. The risk of violence has become a grim reality for Afghan children, but also highlights the importance of protecting and promoting education for future generations.

Our Kabul school for street children empowers the community by providing an education for those less fortunate. We now have more than 70 children attending the school; all of whom are also engaged in some form of street work to provide for their families. Our school provides an environment where children can be children. They are taught numeracy, literacy, arts and crafts, and they receive a daily meal.

The children are keen to attend the classes, and they have become more open in sharing their thoughts, hopes, and dreams for the future. The recent introduction of football into the curriculum has been welcomed by the children, and they enjoy feeling part of a team. The football coach supports and promotes female participation in football practices, even though cultural norms and traditional gender roles discourage girls from doing so. Our teachers are engaging with the street children’s families, and explaining the importance of physical education for the children’s learning and well-being.

In Geneva, we have been continuing our efforts to increase awareness of our school for street children. Last month, the main photograph for our project page was selected as a finalist in Global Giving’s Annual Photo Competition. We are also engaged in correspondence with the Mobile School to find ways in which we can reach even more street children in Kabul.

If we can positively influence how children see themselves, their environment, and the future, we can influence society for the better.

Please continue to support us in our quest to change lives.

Warm wishes,

The team at AfD

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Tens of thousands of children work on the streets in Kabul, Afghanistan.They often work in unsafe environments, face abuse and crime, are exposed to the illegal drugs trade, and experience workplace injuries and security threats.

The needs of street children are overshadowed by the dire economic and security situation in Afghanistan. The country is in the midst of a prolonged recession, and many children have lost their fathers to the conflict. They have no choice but to work to provide for their family.

Street children are a vulnerable demographic in need of protection. They also need to have their voices heard and their rights upheld. Our school continues to protect and empower street children by providing them with an education in addition to food and basic health care.

There are now 63 children enrolled in our school, split in 2 classrooms, based on ability rather than age. The children attend school 5 days per week from 11.30 to 15.00 where they learn basic numeracy and literacy (in Dari, the local language), do art and crafts, and receive a warm lunch. Thanks to our partnership with UEFA, we have now rented a football pitch and hired a football coach to allow 40 children (20 boys and 20 girls) to play football once per week. Currently, we have a coordinator, 2 trainers (who also work as street workers to recruit children into the school), a cook, and a football coach working at the school.

In May, we started a collaboration with Mobile School, an organization that develops mobile school carts and educational materials and trains local street workers to increase the efficiency of the outreach work done on the streets. By becoming part of a global network of mobile schools around the world, we can share knowledge, experiences, and best practices. By bringing the school to the streets, we can recruit harder-to-reach children.

We would like to thank you again for supporting our school. Please share the details of our project with your friends and family. Attending the school improves the day-to-day lives of street children, and gives them hope for the future.

Warm regards,

The team at AfD

Links:

Doctors, teachers, pilots, and policemen. These are some of the professions cited by the street children attending our school. With your continued support, we can help these children, and others to realise their aspirations and lead a happy life.

Sadly, these children currently work long hours in adverse conditions to provide for their families, with as little as some bread, or nothing, to sustain them. They face discrimination from others on a daily basis. Our school offers hope amongst the hardship, and a chance for the children to break the cycle of poverty.

In addition to teaching the children literacy and numeracy skills, and providing them with a nutritious meal, we have now incorporated creative tasks and physical activity into the schooling program. Last week, the children took part in their first creative task – kite-making. From April, the children will receive football training with a coach. We believe that providing activities such as these is essential to support the children’s physical and mental well-being, and will enable them to flourish.

Currently, there are 59 street children attending our school. By the end of 2018, we hope to have at least 150 students. We plan to recruit a mobilizer, who will approach more children in the street, and we may expand our search to more neighbourhoods. Ultimately, we plan to work with the families to reintroduce the street children back into the formal school system. We will educate the families on the risks related to street work, and on the importance of education. We need to engage the children’s families to help break the cycle of poverty.

We would like to thank you for the support you have given to our project, and we hope that you can continue to support our efforts to make a difference to the lives of children.

Warm wishes,

The team at AfD

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Action for Development (AfD)

Project Leader:
Zuhra Dadgar-Shafiq
Geneva, Geneva Switzerland
$3,705 raised of $50,000 goal
 
12 donations
$46,295 to go
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