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Ahmad wants to be Leonardo Da Vinci

Ahmad wants to be Leonardo Da Vinci

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30 Dec 2021 - 13:38
Ahmad wants to be Leonardo Da Vinci
author avatar
30 Dec 2021 - 13:38

KABUL (Pajhwok): Ahmad, the breadwinner for a nine-member family, is trying to translate into action his dream of becoming a renowned engineer and artist like Leonardo da Vinci.

A resident of the Cement Khana locality of Kabul, the 13-year-old is an eighth-grader at the Nazo Ana High School. He wakes up and offers his morning prayers before going to work after eating a piece of bread for breakfast.

He neither works at an office nor writes on a piece of paper like clerks. He has a handcart on which he carries people’s luggage from one place to another. He always looks at people’s suitcases and bag, waiting for calls to shift them in return for money.

Ahmad is forced to work as his parents are sick and unable to work. He stands with his elder brother in front of general stores in the Macro Ryan neighbourhood of Kabul.

He is paid a maximum of 40 afs for taking public belongings from one location to another. He, however, complains that people often deceive him and don’t pay the amounts they promise.

On a working day, he earned 30 afs by working from morning to afternoon. This amount is nothing for a nine-member family and at a time when he is the only breadwinner.

Ahmad also goes to an education centre, where an NGO provides learning opportunities — and lunch — for street children.

The head of the learning centre said: “We provide here an opportunity for street boys who want to learn but could not go to school for economic reasons. We teach them the subjects they like.”

Ahmad’s arrival at the centre was accidental. One day, he was busy pushing his handcart lasen with the belongings of an individual to a particular area.

A social worker at the learning centre saw Ahmad carrying heavy luggage. He was taken by surprise, wondering how a teenager could push a -cart with heavy luggage.

He asked Ahmad if he attended school. Ahmad responded in the negative. The man again asked him if he wanted to go to school. This time, the boy replied in the affirmative.

Ahmad stayed away from school for two years due to economic problems. The social worker offered him membership of the learning centre after discussions with Ahmad’s family.

The learning centre has different branches – computer literacy, tailoring, drawing, calligraphy and others, Students have the choice to select any field and continue learning in that particular rea.

Ahmad picked drawing as he had been fond of drawing and painting for years. After six months of learning painting and drawing, he is now busy working on different things.

Ahmad Shah, a teacher at the centre, hailed Ahmad’s work and said the boy was brilliant. “Ahmad is so good at drawing sketches as an artist does at the initial stage of his work.”

Using coloured pencils, Ahmad said: “I want to learn good drawing and become a famous artist. I want to be like the world-famous Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci.”

He is still a child, but his situation has put him in a position where he dreams big. About his future, the boy said: “I don’t want to carry forever loads and make money. I want to study and be a qualified engineer.”

Ahmad said he secured the first position in his class and would try to retain it until graduation.

Mohammad Shah is Ahmad’s classmate, friend and teammate. They play cricket together. Shah is closer to Ahmad than any other classmate and has a similar story.

Selling plastic, Shah has an interest in drawing and creates beautiful thing. He praised Ahmad’s skills and said, “To me, he is like a teacher. I have learnt a lot from him.”

It is 11am, time for lunch. Ahmad and his friends, all members of Ashiana, work hard after taking lunch to win bread for their families.

The boy has to go home to bring his handcart and return to work. He and his brother, pushing one handcart, are breadwinners for their family.

Ahmad has to shoulder greater responsibility, as his brother has mental issues.

Ahmad’s father, himself a labourer in the Kabul market, has developed a spinal cord problem due to carrying heavy loads. He is no longer able to lift heavy objects after undergoing multiple surgeries.

Ahmad’s mother, who has been washing people’s clothes and selling bread for many years, can no longer work efficiently as a result of some neck issues.

“My son still wears used clothes donated by people,” his mother said as tears rolled down her cheeks.

Ahmad, dearer to his family, treated his sisters and brothers with kindness, she said, adding the boy never disappointed his parents.

The teenager also shoulders another responsibility — paying 3,000 afghanis a month in house rent. On a good day, he earns up to 150 afghanis.

Asked what they did if Ahmad returned home empty-handed, his mother replied: “We wait for God’s help.”

It is now 5pm. It is dark and one cannot see anything without light. Ahmad usually works until this time. He has earned 120 afghanis today.

Although this amount of money is insufficient to meet his family needs, with it he can save his family from going hungry tonight. With this, he bought 10 loaves of bread (each for 10 afghanis)  and brought them home. He gave the remaining 20 afghanis to his mother to save it.

This was Ahmad’s story for one day only. It goes on daily. Sometimes he returns home with 200 afghanis, at others with 150 afghanis. At times, he has to be content with 100 afghanis. More often than not, he earns nothing.

But Ahmad enjoys being at the center and working on his paintings. He also works on his drawings at home and continually strives to hone his skills.

Despite all the problems Ahmad is facing, he still works hard and is confident of achieving the goal he has set for himself.


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