Decades of conflict have left Afghanistan one of the most dangerous places in the world for children and their mothers to live. One in seven Afghan children will not live to see their fifth birthday. Enrolment in primary education has vastly improved over the past 10 years, but still only 7 girls for every 10 boys are enrolled in primary education.
Conflict has devastated Afghanistan’s economy, and as a result the social services that would normally act as a safety net for poor and vulnerable people simply do not exist. One in three children in Afghanistan under the age of five are moderately or severely underweight for their age because their families have not been able to feed them properly. As they get older, many kids are forced to work on the streets just to make sure there is food on the table.
As a result of on-going conflict, tribal war and intimidation by armed groups, every month thousands of Afghan people are forced to flee their homes to find safer places to live. There are currently around 450,000 Internally Displaced People in Afghanistan, 49% of who are under 18 years old.
What we're doing
Setting Up Early Childhood Development Centres
We have established more than 25 kindergartens for children aged 4-6. They give kids basic pre-school education, a daily snack and a chance for them to socialise with other children. It’s also a great opportunity for their mums to get together as many of them would otherwise stay at home alone all day. Our Early Childhood Development Centres play a crucial role in a child’s development at the most important time in their lives. Once we’ve set-up the centres, we continue to support them by helping to train their staff.
Resource Centres For Street-Working Children
These are safe places where children can come during the day and access a free education and support to either get back into mainstream school, or get some business skills, depending on how old they are. Literacy is the main barrier to getting a safer more secure form of employment and it helps children to know their rights. These young people are often supporting their families financially, but are stuck in hazardous, insecure forms of work. We’re also helping their mums to increase the family income so they and their children don’t have to work on the streets or in exploitative labour.
Running A Child Helpline
This is for vulnerable children and care providers to call and get some support or advice. People can report cases of abuse, and children can call to get help if they feel they are in danger or are being exploited. It's one of the few outlets that children have to make sure they can get help. Our helpline is the crucial link between the risk and the remedy and it’s free for the majority of callers. We put callers in touch with the relevant service providers, who they would not otherwise know to contact.
Working With Local Employers
We’re helping to establish workplace safety standards so women and children aren’t exposed to hazardous or harmful working environments. Educating employers on better ways to work with and train their younger employees benefits both the businesses and the young people.
Supporting Internally Displaced Children and their Families
It's estimated that 90% of the Internally Displaced children we're working with have either never gone to school or have dropped out. Thousands of children like Delaram live in temporary camps having fled their villages to escape the violence. We're providing them with literacy, numeracy, life skills and hygiene training. This is vital for these kids as it helps them to regain a sense of normality and structure — something which is incredibly valuable in such difficult circumstances.
We are also supporting their mothers to cope with the challenges of daily life. Women are being taught about child protection, nutrition and hygiene so that whole families are able to benefit from War Child’s work.