Loaves of bread and warm blankets

An Afghan woman's wish for her children

By Feridoon Aryan and Ajmal Sherzai
Winterization kits distribution
UNICEFAfghanistan/2022/Bidel
04 February 2022

HERAT, AFGHANISTAN - 35-year-old Delkhwah Alaudin was compelled to leave her hometown in Shorabak District, Badghis Province a year ago due to years of insecurity, drought and extreme poverty. Her husband was mostly away, working in other provinces or in neighbouring Iran.

In his absence, the onus of looking after their four children fell solely on Delkhwah, who herself suffers from rheumatism. She and her children now live in a camp for internally displaced persons camp in Shaidayee, Herat. Recently, a kind-hearted individual gifted her a rug to lay over the cold and barren floor inside her tent.  

Winterization kits distribution
UNICEF Afghanistan/2022/Bidel
Delkhwah and her four children leave their shoes outside their tent, which is their home inside the camp for displaced persons.

Delkhwah and her four children left their hometown and walked for days before arriving at the camp in Herat Province. They were poor and didn’t have any belongings to carry along.

“The journey was tough, and my children were struggling to keep up. The only thing that kept us going was the hope of arriving at a safe place where my children could finally get something to eat,” says Delkhwah.  

Winterization kits distribution
UNICEF Afghanistan/2022/Bidel
In the displaced persons camp, Delkhwah cooks and heats water for tea over a small makeshift hearth.

“Most people in this camp are very poor. Work is very hard to find here. Many of the families, including mine, only have boiled carrots to eat every day. The little bit of coal left from the stove keeps our tent warm for a few hours during nighttime," says Delkhwah.

"I wish that my children could eat loaves of bread daily and at night. When the freezing wind pierces through the tent, I wish they had an extra blanket to stay warm."

Winterization kits distribution
UNICEF Afghanistan/2022/Bidel
Delkhwah and her children eat carrots before she leaves home to receive a winterization kit from UNICEF.

Inside their tent home, Delkhwah and her children, Zafaran, 12, Mansoor, 9, Nisar, 7, and Shafeeq, 5, often go hungry. At times, when things become unbearable, Delkhwah is compelled to send her three children to the city to find some food or at least go to the vegetable market and bring back carrots thrown away by the vendors.

Winterization kits distribution
UNICEF Afghanistan/2022/Bidel
Delkhwah lives with her children in Shaidayee Camp for internally displaced persons in Herat, Afghanistan.

Each day, the number of people arriving in Shaidayee Camp grows. The escalating humanitarian crisis, poverty, drought, and violence has displaced millions from their homes. They all arrive at the camp looking for a safe place and employment. There is very little to do at the camp for people to spend their days.

UNICEF and its partners organise regular mobile health clinics inside the camp and distribute nutrition-rich peanut paste, a therapeutic food for severely malnourished children. UNICEF also established child-friendly centres and drinking water stations in the camp, and distributes winterisation kits to all families to cope with the below-zero Afghan winters.

Winterization kits distribution
UNICEFAfghanistan/2022/Bidel

Through the generous support of the Government of Denmark, the Government of Estonia and UNICEF National Committees around the world, 1,700 of the most vulnerable families in Herat like Delkhwah's received 5,000 blankets, 1,700 tarpaulins and 1,700 buckets this winter.

UNICEF is also distributing these packages throughout other districts of Afghanistan to families with pregnant and lactating women, families with children with disabilities, and female headed households to address the urgent needs of vulnerable children this winter.

Winterization kits distribution
UNICEFAfghanistan/2022/Bidel

Delkhwah patiently waits her turn to receive the winterization kit. A UNICEF staff is seen closely monitoring the distribution process. These kits will keep Delkhwah and 1,700 other families in Shaidayee Camp warm during wintertime when temperatures fall below zero.

Winterization kits distribution
UNICEFAfghanistan/2022/Bidel

A mother’s joy: The happiness was palpable as Delkhwah received her winterization kit. Her eyes were gleaming as she hurriedly made her way back to her tent to show the new blankets to her children. Her children were no longer going to be cold at night – a wish she sought to fulfill for years.

Winterization kits distribution
UNICEFAfghanistan/2022/Bidel

Back inside her tent, Delkhwah and her children cuddle together under their new blankets. The tarpaulin is helping keep the cold air out. The children are finally warm, much to Delkhwah’s joy.

“My thank you to everyone who made this winter more bearable for my children.”