With education, Fayaz Agha can do anything!
Samangan, Afghanistan, 15 November 2018 – Fayaz Agha, 17, loves mathematics and fixing electrical problems, but an adolescent photography workshop in Bamyan province opened his eyes to a whole new career possibility.
Attending the UNICEF-supported workshop was a first for the Grade 9 student who had never left his home province of Samangan in the north of Afghanistan. It also meant being away from his 15-year-old brother, Zakirullah, for the first time.
“I am so happy because there is so much to learn here,” he said. “I always thought I would be an electrician, but now I may change my mind and might want to be a professional photographer. Who knows? I may be able to teach my brother what I have learned and together start a new phase in our lives.
“I have not been away from my brother before,” Fayaz Agha said. “Every night I call him and talk to him, he says he is fine, but I know he misses me, and I am also thinking of him because we confide in each other and spend time with each other.
“We share stories and new things we have heard and learned. I talk about the workshop, about the other young people and foreigners I have met, and he listens attentively. I know his eyes were glowing when I told him I was given a camera to take photos of life around Samangan and things related to children.
“Zakirullah has already made plans for a photo shoot,” laughed Fayaz Agha.
Fayaz Agha is adding photography to his growing list of skills and passions.
The boys have a father, but he cannot afford to care for them, their mother died when they were but infants. Sadly, the brothers have lived in an orphanage for the past 10 years.
“It has been a life time in the orphanage,” Fayaz Agha said with a bitter smile.
“Our father lives alone and cannot afford to provide for us. He has a small shop where he sells vegetables and some groceries, making just 200 AFN (US$ 3.70) a day,” Fayaz Agha said. “There is only enough space for the merchandise and for him to sleep at night. It pains my heart to see my father like that.”
The boys visit their father every two months, but just for the day.
Fayaz Agha is able to study at the orphanage, but he is looking forward to the day when he and Zakirullah will go to university. Life has been hard for the brothers.
“I love mathematics and things to do with electricity,” he said. “Sometimes when we have a short circuit at the orphanage I am the one to fix it. I love such things because it makes me feel that I am helping others.”
“Sometimes I hear my younger brother sobbing at night and I do understand that he misses being with his father, and the sense of a family, but there is nothing we can do at the moment, at least not until we graduate from school and make it to university,” he said. “I am sure with education and working hard we will be able to change our destiny. I dream of the day that the three of us, my brother, father and myself are together and live happily.”
“Sometimes when we visit our father, I crack some jokes to make my brother and father laugh,” Fayaz Agha said. “And they do laugh, but I can sense the agony of not being together in their laughter. I try to ignore it but it comes back at night and pinches my heart.
“To be honest, I had reached a tipping point, but I am so happy I was given the opportunity to come to Bamyan province. The weather is good, the people are friendly and it is safe here, it was not only a change of environment but also a great learning opportunity.”
For Fayaz Agha, the adolescent photography workshop is a new beginning, a time to think of new horizons, with hope for himself, his brother and father, “ I am happy, I can capture these hopes and dreams through my camera.”