Asked “what do you want to do in the future?” most kids from an orphanage in Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul would answer “I want to be a doctor” without hesitation, as their loved ones were killed in wars and many relatives were injured with lifelong handicaps.
“I lost my father 11 years ago. My earnest desire is for my father to be alive today. My father was a kind and nice man,” 12-year-old Sibghatullah whispered.
Originally from the northern Takhar province and currently living in Kabul, the teenage boy spoke with sorrow that the death of his father had taken everything from his family.
The U.S.-led forces, during their 20-year presence in Afghanistan which ended in August 2021, reportedly killed numerous Afghan civilians and Sibghatullah’s father was one of the victims.
“When I see other boys with fathers, I wish I had my father here as well,” he said regrettably.
Sibghatullah is just feeling deep grief over his late father, while International Children’s Day is celebrated throughout the world to promote children’s rights.
Nevertheless, countless children, mostly orphaned ones in war-torn and poverty-stricken Afghanistan, have been deprived of their rights to education and are working on the streets to earn a livelihood for their impoverished families.
“I go to sell shopping bags every day on the streets, if earn some money, I bring naan, Afghan traditional flat bread, home,” an orphaned Afghan boy Nawid, who also lost his father during the U.S.-led war on Afghanistan, told Xinhua.
Expressing similar grief, another Afghan teenager Shahab, 14, from the eastern Laghman province, muttered that his life was destroyed after his father was killed a few years ago.
“One day my father and I were walking outside home but suddenly we heard Kalashnikov gunshots and we were both hit. He died and I lost myself and didn’t remember much more about the incident,” Shahab recalled with grief.
Children are the most vulnerable victims of wars. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), between 2009 and 2018, armed conflicts killed nearly 6,500 children and injured close to 15,000 others.
Shahab, living and attending school in Kabul, dreams of becoming a medical doctor in the future. “My father’s dream for me was to become a doctor in the future. I am trying to realize his dream, which is also mine now,” he told Xinhua.
Children like the kids at this orphanage might be the luckier ones compared to those curling up on the streets, unattended by any family member.
More than 900,000 Afghans have been newly displaced inside the country since 2021, the vast majority of whom are women and children, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
“My father took care of me, but unfortunately because of the war, I failed to take care of him and now he is dead. My father was a hero,” Shahab said.