I spent much of yesterday with some kids the world forgot. Young, remarkably sturdy and resilient, they can often be naïve and almost willfully gullible. They inhabit a world that delights in tripping them up and watching them fall. They are Kabul’s Street Kids.
Every Friday morning, roughly 100 of these forgotten children sit in noisy – sometimes raucous – groups of seven to ten in a large, unheated classroom, discussing and brainstorming human rights – rights few in the international community seem to acknowledge they enjoy. On this thirty degree Kabul morning, some are in shirtsleeves; few have coats adequate for the weather. They are dirty. They are underfed. They are loved.
These kids are the smallest microcosm of Kabul’s estimated 50,000 “street kids”, boys and girls who dot the city’s already clogged roads selling balloons, “blessing” cars with incense, or lugging scales on which passers-by are invited to weigh themselves. They perform these demeaning tasks for a meager “fee” which helps their mothers buy food for their families.
These young children and their parents live on the streets. They camp in the lee of parked vehicles, in the protected corner of a neighbor’s courtyard, in abandoned buildings. There are few government-sponsored programs to assist them — no food pantries, clothing giveaways, or free medical care. They are left to survive on their wits in a society too busy to cope with their problems.
The Afghan Peace…