Afghanistan Women Council’s Campaign for Street Children in Afghanistan supported their survival needs and helped to fulfill their right to an education. Mrs. Fatana Ishaq Gailani, the Chairwoman of AWC, lead the campaign with a qualified volunteer team.
The campaign focused on the following:
- Challenges that working children face on the street.
- Government role in tackling this problem.
- Ways to contribute to sponsor a street child.
- Campaigning for the prevention of harmful child labor.
- The roles that the government, civil society, child rights state entities, even families, play in preventing and thwarting marginalized street children in the labor force.
Children all over Afghanistan work and this is not considered a problem. Many poor and middle-class families and elders even encourage it. The main goal of conducting the campaign was to bring awareness to the families of the abuses their kids experience during their work. They often fail to comprehend the future physical, mental and economic consequences of keeping boys and girls out of school.
Children in Afghanistan work all sorts of jobs — street vendors, shoe polishers, car washers, garbage collectors, brick makers, painters, goods deliverers, servants, mechanics and so on.
In the last three years, AWC’s Community Based Education Centers have provided education and vocational training for more than 600 women. This provides them with a pathway to generate an income by learning a skill and running a business. They are able to play a vital role in the community which affects the whole family’s economic sustainability. The program makes a direct contribution in preventing the vulnerability of children. Together, this approach creates a foundation for long-lasting and sustainable change to break the cycle of conflict and poverty and prevents the main cause of child labor.
Shabana wants to become a cloth designer (Tailor). Shabana is a 10-year-old who goes to school and works as a shouter in the city center. She lives with her parents and an elder sister.
“My father has a vegetable cart and our family income is not sufficient,” she said, “so I have to work, too.”
Shabana earns around 150 Afghani per day, or roughly US$1.90. If she makes more, she uses it to buy books or notebooks for school. She says it is difficult to study in school and work the rest of the day on the streets.
“I need to stand all the time and run after people and shout to sell gums and pens which make me tired. I failed last year in final exams in school and have to repeat the year again.”
Shabana is serious about her education and wants to become a cloth designer. But she recognizes that many young people graduating from public and private universities struggle to find jobs. She also recognizes that she is lucky to have a father who works. Some of her friends’ fathers have died, are unemployed or addicted to drugs. Indeed, many of the people she competes with for work are drug addicts, trying to raise money to pay for their next fix.