The crisis in Afghanistan

The crisis in Afghanistan

By Amritha Purohit, age 15, New York.

The crisis in Afghanistan was something I had always known about, lingering in the back of my mind or through news stories floating through the halls of my already noisy house. It was just another emergency in the world, something that needed to be taken care of, but perhaps not by me. I’m a highschooler living in New York. Most of what was happening on the other side of the planet didn’t seem to have that much to do with me. Earlier this year, Sunita Viswanathintroduced me to ABAAD, the Afghan Women Forward. She is my parents’ close friend, and has known me since I was little. She spoke about it to me in passing, not as something she was hoping to involve me in, but to let me know what was happening in her life. I pressed, and soon found myself interning there. I had always thought that trying to make a real difference halfway across the world from would be almost impossible, but I was wrong. A few weeks ago I had the privilege of participating in a video call with children from Afghanistan whose lives have been impacted by the Taliban takeover. Here are a few of their stories:

In August 2021, the Taliban issued an order preventing girls from attending secondary school, citing pretexts ranging from wanting to review the uniform to curriculum issues. This meant an immediate stop for many young girls seeking an education past sixth grade. Krishma is an 11-year-old girl who would have been in the 7th grade had she not been prevented from attending school. She was forced to stop going to school last year. Everyday, when her second-grade brother comes home, he shares what he learned that day. They often work together to learn to spell tricky words in the hopes that Krishma can continue her education. She wants to become a doctor and a teacher when she grows up, but in her current circumstances, it would be impossible for her to even complete high school. Her message to the world is to educate yourself and to always help others.

Hasinat, age 10, is another Afghan girl who can no longer go to school, but for a different reason. She cannot go to school because of her family’s financial situation. Her parents could no longer afford to pay rent on their house, and were forced to move to another province without a school. Now, the only way for Hasinat to continue her education is by moving back to the old province, and that is financially infeasible for her family. 

Aside from education, Hasinat’s life has been devastated in other ways due to her family’s extreme poverty. She hasn’t had her favorite food, Chablis Kabob, in over two years because her family cannot afford the ingredients. Her mother is sick, and the family cannot afford to buy medicine. Hasinat helps around the house to ease her burden. She hopes to become a Quran teacher when she grows up, and share her love of the Quran with the world.  

Sadaf is a 10-year-old girl in the fourth grade. She has a large family—ten members in all—and when she is bored she often makes pillow forts with her younger sisters. She has dreams of being a doctor. Sadaf is one of many Afghan children facing extreme poverty right now. Her diet mainly consists of tea, bread, carrots and shola,a kind of cheap rice. Her mother is very sick, and her family doesn’t have enough money to take her to the hospital. They can’t afford medicine, and many people in her family are chronically ill. No one in her family has a salaried job, and her mother often worries she will not have enough money to feed her kids. Like Hasinat, Sadaf hasn’t been able to eat her favorite food, a kabob, in almost three years. 

Samir and his sister, Marwa, both don’t have national ID cards. This means that they cannot do a lot of things they would normally be able to, like going to school. Marwa is not yet in sixth grade. Only men can get ID cards, and so their mother cannot help them. They also can’t afford to buy supplies needed to attend school. They also don’t have any kind of toys, so Samir and Marwa often race their siblings for fun. Marwa loves shawarma, but ate it for the last time four years ago. 

Farhad is 11-years-old and in fourth grade. He, like Samir and Marwa, does not have any toys, so he too races his 7-year-old brother for fun. He wants to become a teacher when he grows up, despite extreme poverty and lack of resources. 

Aryan is 12, and is in the third grade. Like many others, his family faces extreme poverty. Most of his meals mirror Sadaf’s and consist of shola, and when they cannot even buy that, they turn to bread and tea. The Taliban have decreed that if a student does not have books for the school, they can’t be in school. Aryan’s family cannot pay for books, and has been forced to stop his education. He also has mobility issues, and is always fidgeting. To fill up his time that he’d be in school, Aryan uses a slingshot to aim at bottles. His greatest wish is to own a car and a bicycle, and to be able to go places.

The situation in Afghanistan has become worse. As the rest of the world turns their back on these children, it’s important that we don’t as well. With donations, ABAAD plans to help children get access to education, to get proper medicine, to have a chance to eat their favorite foods for the first time in years. With a donation to Aabad your family will not only be helping Afghan children and families with basic needs, but also showing that change is possible, even in the midst of a crisis.

By Amritha Purohit, age 15, New York.