“I extremely love education and dream of becoming a doctor to serve my family, society and country,” says 11-year-old Fatima.* Her family has been displaced from Kabul to Herat due to conflict and hunger.
Fatima was in third grade when a missile hit her family’s home in Kabul, destroying it and leaving her father, the family’s sole breadwinner, paralyzed. Without her father’s income, she eventually had to drop out of school since her family could no longer afford books and educational materials. “My father is in bed and cannot move. We did not have anyone to work for us and provide me with books, notebooks, pens and other stationery, so I had to leave school in Kabul,” she recalls.
Fatima would be in fifth grade now if poverty had not forced her to leave school two years ago.
Her family moved to Herat city hoping to find work with a good income. Fatima and one of her sisters do laundry and housecleaning for their neighbours. Her mother and her two other sisters repair their neighbours’ clothes. However, their income remains low as the mother and sisters are not professional tailors. “For a pair of clothes, they get around 50 AFN [US$0.65] because they are not skilled tailors, and they have very basic skills,” says Fatima. “I and my sister get around 20 AFN [US$0.35] for cleaning a house.” Her two brothers are still living in Kabul, and one of them works in a hotel.
The family's income is insufficient to cover their basic expenses, which has kept Fatima out of school until recently because she could not afford to buy educational materials. The inability to pay for school materials is a reality faced by hundreds of thousands of Afghan children, which deprives them from their right to education.
World Vision Afghanistan (WVA) – with the support of World Vision Korea – offers education, healthcare and counselling services to street working children through its Street Working Children Enrichment Centre (SWCEC). Over 4,000 children have benefited from this project's activities since October 2022.
The centre delivers educational activities such as:
- Counselling sessions for challenges children face at school;
- Counselling sessions for parents on child education;
- Providing stationery; and
- Helping children who left their education midway re-integrate into public schools.
Fatima joined the WVA’s SWCEC two months ago. “Fatima came to our centre,” says a WVA staff member, “asking about our programme and hoping we can include her in it. After our assessment, we included her in our education programme.”
Fatima is one of the 800 children who have benefited from this centre’s educational programme between October 2022 and August 2023.
Fatima receives tutoring at the centre, but most importantly, she was able to restart at school in fourth grade. “I’m in fourth grade now. I’m not worried about stationery and books anymore because the centre provides me with such materials,” Fatima says. “I study here to achieve my dream; that’s how I can overcome my problems.”
The SWCEC improves the education of children and fosters their hope for the future. Tutorial classes improve academic performance and counselling sessions provide support to help overcome educational challenges and establish future goals.
“The effect of this centre is that before I did not have learning materials, but now I have, and I’m sure if I have this support, I can achieve my dream.” Fatima said, her voice confident and energetic. “Previously, I would fail because of a lack of learning materials, but now I’m sure I won’t.”
Fatima continued, “I want to tell you that I’m very content and happy with this centre. It helped me to continue my education and gave me back my lost hope for achieving my dream of becoming a doctor. My request is that this centre should never be closed, otherwise, thousands of children like me won’t be able to meet their dreams.”
WVA is appreciative of World Vision Korea for their dedication and generosity that allowed us to ensure children like Fatima can achieve their dreams.
* Name changed to protect identity.
Note: These photos are not of Fatima, but from education activities of SWCEC.