Ongoing conflict in Afghanistan has pushed many families in to poverty, and the impacts of COVID-19 have only made it worse. As a result, children – some as young as eight – are forced to travel across the country and into Iran in search of work. Children just like Jawad*.
Following the death of his father and as the oldest of his siblings, Jawad had no choice but to embark on a long and treacherous journey from Afghanistan to Iran. Their situation was so desperate, it was his only option to find an income for his family and their only chance of survival.
After travelling a dangerous route through the mountains, with no food or water for two days, he finally reached Iran. However, his hope for a new life was instantly shattered, as he was turned away for being too young to work, and he was unable to find a job.
During the journey, I did regret leaving, it was hard. When we finally reached Iran I was happy but then I cried as I thought I shouldn’t have left my mother alone.Jawad, Afghanistan.
Jawad ended up sleeping on a building site on a construction site where he was working. With no money, no place to live and very little support, Jawad found himself desperate to return home to his family. He started the journey back to Afghanistan, however only made it as far as the border.
Fortunately, he was found by a War Child member of staff, who took him to one of our centres. Here he was able to eat, sleep and play, while staff worked hard to find Jawad’s family. Shortly after arriving, he was reunited with his loved ones.
Although Jawad is now reunited with his family, there are still many other challenges he’s facing. When he paid smugglers to help him cross the border into Iran, he paid them 3 million Iranian Rial ($71 USD) and spent around 2 million Iranian Rial ($47.50 USD) on food. To date his family has not been able to repay his debt.
Jawad currently lives with his uncle, along with his mother, two sisters and his brother. Before and after school, he collects plastic to sell in the market. He earns around six Afghan Afghanis a day (less than $1) which he uses to buy bread and provide for his family.
I like going to school and learning. I want to be a teacher in the future because it will enable me to provide for my family. I will also be able to educate myself and forget the past.Jawad, Afghanistan.
We are working closely with Jawad and his family to improve their situation and to ensure that he has a happy and healthy childhood, as well as an education that sets him up for a brighter future.
Our work reuniting children with their families in Afghanistan would not be possible without support from the Players of the People's Postcode Lottery. We’d like to thank them for helping us to ensure Jawad and other children like him are able to return home safely, and continue to live happy, healthy lives.
HELP SUPPORT CHILDREN LIKE JAWAD
*Name changed to protect identity