The only glimmer of hope in a bleak future

Education cannot wait for Afghanistan’s children

By Murtaza Mohammadi
Abdul Wahid, 13 years old
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi
20 February 2019

“Our school was destroyed in the conflict in our village, Cheshme-Shirin. I really miss those days with my friends at school,” remembers 13-year-old Abdul Walid. He lives in Baghlar IDP settlement in Badghis province, western Afghanistan. Abdul Walid was a grade 8 student in his hometown. He is now enrolled in the UNICEF supported temporary learning space in the camp.

“Those were horrific days. I am glad we survived, and we are safe now.” Many children like Abdul Wahid feel safer in the settlements due to the ongoing conflict in their hometown. “I don’t want to go back. I want to live, be with my friends here and continue my studies.” Abdul Wahid likes mathematics and wishes to become an engineer.

“I will go back to my village when I am an engineer, when there is peace, and I will reconstruct my school.”

Noor Ahmad, 12 and his sister Layeqa, 9 years old
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

Noor Ahmad, 12 and his sister Layeqa, 9 are enrolled at a temporary learning space in Noor Abad camp in Badghis. Noor Ahmad was a grade 6 student and Layeqa was a student of grade 2 in their hometown, Amala village in Badghis. They abandoned their village about six months ago due to the drought. Settled in Baghlar camp, they are both enrolled at the temporary learning space in order not to miss the learning opportunity.

“Life is so unfair. It is so cold in our tents. Despite that, I do not want to go back. There is nothing I miss there,” says Ahmad looking at his sister. He keeps silent then. Layeqa continues, “I want to become a doctor. There is a doctor in our camp. I met her when I was sick. She treated me. She gave me medicines. I want to become like her and help other people in the camp.” Layeqa doesn’t foresee any future for her beyond the camp. The settlement has become her whole life. She dreams about supporting children in the camp many years later.

10 years old Zalmai
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

“I like to learn, and I like to educate others,” says Zalmai 10 years old from Baghlar camp. Enrolled at the temporary learning space in their camp, Zalmai feels excited to study. He used to attend a class in a Madrasa in his village. “I like it here. We are taught so well. I am sure I can become a good teacher if I study hard.”

Safia, 9 years old
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

9-year-old Safia doesn’t even recall how long she has been settled in Noor Abad camp. “It was long ago, I don’t remember. I am tired of counting the nights. It is freezing, and we only think of survival at nights,” says Safia. I go to school in the camp during the day. It feels warm in the class and it’s so joyful to learn.

“I wish there would be peace in our village, so we can go back home.”

Hossain, 13 years old
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

Mohammad Hossain, 13, is one of the many drought affected IDPs in Badghis. Having never been to school, Mohammad can’t read and write. Enrolled at the temporary school established in Kharestan camp, he is catching up fast with other students in his class. “Many children are sick in the camp because of the cold weather. I am sure I can help my people if I am educated and become a doctor.”

Asef, 15 years old
UNICEF Afghanistan/2019/Mohammadi

Asef, 15 years old, has come a long way from Kandala village to settle with his family in Jare-Khusk camp. We are a big family, we are three brothers and three sisters. Since we lost everything, I couldn’t afford going to school anymore. I studied until grade 6. Here at the camp, we are not living, just surviving. I don’t know how long we can stay here. The future is so dark for us.   

Since arrival of refugees to Badghis, a western province in Afghanistan, there were temporary learning spaces established in Kharestan, Baghlar, and Zaimati IDP settlements to provide education in emergency to those children out of school to ensure they do not miss their right to education.

The protracted violence in Afghanistan worsened by climate change has put many children at risk. Access to education is one of the many challenges these children face. UNICEF in Afghanistan and its partners are committed to provide humanitarian support and quality learning opportunities to those children living in emergency situations.

Thanks to the support of our donors and Education Cannot Wait.