FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Kids the World Forgot

Photo by Todd Huffman | CC BY 2.0

I spent much of yesterday with some kids the world forgot. Young, remarkably sturdy and resilient, they can often be naïve and almost willfully gullible. They inhabit a world that delights in tripping them up and watching them fall. They are Kabul’s Street Kids.

Every Friday morning, roughly 100 of these forgotten children sit in noisy – sometimes raucous – groups of seven to ten in a large, unheated classroom, discussing and brainstorming human rights – rights few in the international community seem to acknowledge they enjoy. On this thirty degree Kabul morning, some are in shirtsleeves; few have coats adequate for the weather. They are dirty. They are underfed. They are loved.

These kids are the smallest microcosm of Kabul’s estimated 50,000 “street kids”, boys and girls who dot the city’s already clogged roads selling balloons, “blessing” cars with incense, or lugging scales on which passers-by are invited to weigh themselves. They perform these demeaning tasks for a meager “fee” which helps their mothers buy food for their families.

These young children and their parents live on the streets. They camp in the lee of parked vehicles, in the protected corner of a neighbor’s courtyard, in abandoned buildings. There are few government – sponsored programs to assist them – no food pantries, clothing giveaways, or free medical care. They are left to survive on their wits in a society too busy to cope with their problems.

The Afghan Peace Volunteers, a small grassroots program organized by young Afghan women and men to foster and support nonviolent solutions to their country’s suffering, originated and operates this “Street Kids School” to supplement whatever education the youngsters are able to absorb through irregular attendance at public schools. Funded entirely by contributions from the international community and staffed by volunteer teachers, the school realizes that no dream – no matter how small – can be achieved without education.

In order to enable the kids to escape the streets and have time to come to class each Friday, mothers of children who faithfully attend the school are given cooking oil and rice to supplement the income their sons and daughters would have earned on the streets. It costs roughly $534 to fund one child’s participation for a year. The overwhelming percentage (91%, or $473) is spent for the monthly sack of rice and bottle of cooking oil given to each child’s family. The remaining funds are spent on school supplies and winter clothing for the children. The program’s annual budget is $53,400.

The Afghan Peace Volunteers expect that each child participating in the school will make steady progress toward literacy every year they attend. In the last year, 30 of the 100 children in the school reached literacy within seven months, evidence that, with guidance, every child, no matter the circumstances, can and will learn!

More articles by:

Ken Hannaford-Ricardi has been representing Voices for Creative Nonviolence (vcnv.org) as a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul.

April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail