SHIBERGHAN (Pajhwok): Children working on the roads in Shiberghan city, the capital of northern Jawzjan province, are urging the government to provide them with education services.
Dozens of children from poor families are engaged in various activities in many streets in Shiberghan city.
Hamidullah, an 11 years old resident of Kohistanat district of Sar-i-Pul province who has taken refuge in Shiberghan due to conflicts and insecurity of the past, says that his father was a farmer who was killed in a clash between the Taliban and former government forces.
He said that he was now the only breadwinner of his family.
He says that after the loss of his father, the war intensified in their area and people’s houses including theirs’ were torched that forced them to take refuge in Shiberghan city.
He spends every day from morning to evening on one of the roads of Shiberghan city and polishes people’s shoes.
The orphan boy, who dreams of going to school, said he could not go to school as he had to earn and feed his family.
“The government should hear the voices of orphans and help us go to school and study,” he said.
Hamidullah is small in terms of age, but the hardships of his life have made him mature and he seems wiser. The boy who considers himself responsible for his family’s livelihood, also thinks about his future and his two sisters and a younger brother.
“It is impossible for my sisters and brother to go to school, because we earn only to feed our family and we cannot afford buying books, notebooks and school dress,” he said.
Hamidullah is not alone. The 12-year-old is working in an auto repair shop due to poverty.
Hamidullah’s father, who was a police officer in the previous government, was killed in conflict and now his three sons aged between 12 to 15 years are working for their family.
Hamidullah, who is a resident of Lolash district of Faryab province, is currently living with his mother, two brothers and a sister in Shiberghan city.
The boy, who should be present in the shop from 8am until 5pm, said:”I receive a salary of 1,500 afghanis a week, I have to come here and not to go to school.”
He said that two of his elder brothers sod selling tea in Bokhdi Park in Shiberghan city.
Addressing the government, he said, “Do not let any child become homeless in the future, give us orphans equal education services.”
“If one day I have some power, I will provide all the joys of the world to children who are orphans and I will never let any child become orphan or lose their father, I will even provide them with education,” he said.
Highly interested in education, Hamidullah said, “When we came to Jawzjan, I was in the fourth grade of school, but I became a trainee with a mechanic and was unable to continue my school.”
“We ask the new government to build our houses back for us so we will return to our area,” he said.
Suhaila, a 13 years old girl from Darzab district of Jawzjan, who was displaced to Shiberghan three years ago, said, “We have been out of school since we came to Shiberghan city.”
She said that Daesh or Islamic State militants torched their school in their district and she was now disappointed that she was deprived of going to school.
“Before the fall of the previous government, I used to sell Bolani with my mother in the bazaar and it helped us economically,” she said.
“My father was a soldier in the former government, he was caught in a clash with IS militants and disappeared in the fight since now,” she added.
She also called on the government to help needy families with children so they would be able to go to school.
Meanwhile, Dr. HilalBalkhi, information and culture director of Jawzjan said, “We have programs for children doing hard labor on roads.”
“We have created free educational courses in which students from schools and children from poor families can study there,” he said.
Balkhi said they also had plan to hire displaced people in Afghan Gas Company in Shiberghan city.
He said that the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum had major projects in which large number of people from Shiberghan city would be hired when launched.
“Resettlement of displaced families is one of our other plans that will be implemented in the near future,” he added.
He said, “Families who do not intend to go to their areas and homes, their children will be enrolled in local schools and other children who are doing hard labor would be enrolled in educational programs so they would not be deprived of education.”
Balkhi said that no detailed survey has been conducted in Shiberghan city so far to identify the exact number of children involved in hard labor.