Herat, Afghanistan, January 2020: Mohammad Akhter and his two young brothers, Islam Uddin and Naser, 16 and 14 years old, are from Badghis Province. All three brothers are disabled, which is stigmatized in Afghanistan. Mohammad and Naser have a physical impairment while Islam Uddin has a visual impairment. Despite the challenges they face, Mohammad says, “We are very eager to learn and become literate so that we can have a job in the future and earn money.” The three brothers and sister migrated to Herat with their father and mother due to the ongoing conflict with AOG (armed opposition groups) in Badghis province as well as the lack of livelihood opportunities.Their mother also hoped that in Herat the three brothers would be able to access education, which was not an option in Badghis.
Creating equal opportunities for children with disabilities
Quality Emergency Education for Displaced Children
Unfortunately, when they arrived in Herat, their father abandoned the family in order to return to Badghis and marry again. Mohammad recounts the story of his father, “he left us and said, ‘I will not tolerate you any more, you three are very useless people and I could not waste my life with you.” Their mother suffered after their father’s abandonment, but Mohammad still believes that he and his brothers can fulfil their dream of being educated. The three brothers currently participate in classes in CRS’s Temporary Learning Spaces (TLS) in the Sharak e Sabz IDP site outside of Herat City, western Afghanistan. They attend classes every day and hope to continue their education. “Our goals can only be achieved through study” the brothers say. Currently, the three brothers are taught by teacher Wazir Ahmad who is very supportive of children with disabilities accessing education. Wazir Ahmad was recruited to teach in the camps by CRS and the Herat Provincial Education Department and has a high qualification and extensive experience in teaching as he has received trainings and graduated from Teachers Training Center. He mentions that he wanted to teach in the IDP camps to provide education to children that would normally not access it. Regarding the three brothers he says, “the brothers are present in class every day. They are very interested in their lessons and are very intelligent students. They are dedicated to their education and come to the class earlier than other students and even me.”
“Other people call us useless, but we are very capable,” said Mohammad Akhtar, “Me and my brothers can fight against all our problems and solve them. Although we cannot use our legs, we can use our minds and study better than other students. But no one understands us, so I want to prove for all people that we can improve and make a good life for us.”.
“If I get chance, I wish to be a teacher in the future to help with other disabled people and teach them the humanity and patience I have learned from bad and harsh people”, Islam Uddin shares. His brother Naser also shares his dream. “If I get chance, I want to become a doctor to help disabled people.” Since starting class, Naser says he is very happy with his education and his teacher. “Teacher Wazir Ahmad supports us and teaches us new things every day. We are excited to come to class.”