For street children in Kabul, life is a daily battle to earn enough money so their families can eat. They leave their meager homes or shelters early in the morning, hoping to sell some cheap items or beg enough to survive. Most have had at least one parent killed in the war, and many are refugees. Since it is so difficult for widows to earn an income, being fatherless puts an even heavier burden on children and may force them to take to the streets as the family’s breadwinner.
Each day, street children may put themselves in dangerous situations, such as approaching cars hoping for a handout or to sell sticks of gum and phone cards. Some pass a burning can of noxious fumes in front of passersby, promising to “ward off the evil eye” in exchange for a few coins. They may beg, sell plastic bags, look for scrap metal, shine shoes or do whatever they can for a little change. Along the way, many are abused. They live in fear of being robbed of their paltry earnings, their freedom, and even their lives.
With such low earnings, street children are often hungry and have little access to medical care. Unless they are in a special program, very few attend school, reducing their opportunities to build a decent future.
According to surveys by the UN children’s organization, UNICEF, there are an estimated 60,000 street children in Kabul. Aschiana, our partner organization, puts the number higher and says it has almost doubled over the past five years. In 2005, there were 37,000 children working on the streets,” said program manager Nazar Mohammad. “But now, according to new surveys, there’s nearly 70,000 of them.” For information on changing the life of a street child through sponsorship, see Sponsor a Street Child.
For more information on life on the streets of Kabul, please visit the following sites: