Balkh, Afghanistan – Mujtaba’s father was killed six years ago in northern Afghanistan. Mujtaba was still a child – but immediately, he began acting twice his age.
“I lost my father when I was ten years old,” Mujtaba said. “I had no choice but to search for a job.”
Mujtaba lives with his family in Balkh Province, Afghanistan. Anti-government groups control his village, placing children like Mujtaba at a continued risk of violence. Insecurity has aggravated already-high levels of poverty and stripped girls and boys of their childhood throughout the province.
“I wish I had not dropped out of school,” said Mujtaba, now 16 years of age. “I still cannot read or write.”
For four years, Mujtaba worked up to 10 hours a day to help his family survive. As a labourer, most of that work took place under terrible conditions for little pay; every day, he would bring home 200 Afghanis – the equivalent of three dollars. Even with his older brother working alongside him, it was never enough to sustain his family’s needs.