Giving Street Working Children Equal Opportunities
Raised in the Baghlan province, Sajad is a 4-year-old boy who suffered the loss of his father at a very young age which led to his mother getting remarried. This predicament forced Sajad and his family of 7 to move to Kabul to look for better opportunities. Amongst his sibilings, one of them has been diagnosed with anaemia and another 1-year-old with cerebral palsy.
Sajad then described the hardest obstacles he had to overcome through the last 4 years living in Kabul, “When I turned 9, I started working as a caller for the destination of vehicles every Friday. After some time, beside school I was mentored by a tailor and worked there for almost three years. My instructor gave me 150 Afs (USD$2) per week, but then my father told me, I should leave the tailors and work in the market, because our family needs more money to be supported. I was so happy in the tailors, but I left and went to the market and to work in a soup shop, and till now I am working there. My boss there trusts me so much and today I am going to receive my monthly salary, which is 3000 Af (USD$43)! I am so happy to get paid, and also my boss says that I am a very honest boy."
Sajad is now in 7th grade, and is a member of the Save the Children Child-Friendly Centre, as well as working in the soup shop. At the moment, Sajad is the only wage-earner of the family, and is having to pay the rent on the house. His step-father has only recently obtained a new job as a guard of one of the prisons in Kabul.
"Before coming to the Save the Children Child-friendly Centre, I was not aware of children’s rights and I did not have much confidence to speak, but by coming to the child-friendly centre, I have learned about children’s rights and Islam. Now I am much more confident to speak in front of others and request my rights." replied Sajad when asked about his experience in being a member of the Child-Friendly Centre.
"Sometimes it gets a bit hard for me to study and work at the same time, but I have made a schedule for myself to study my lessons at night. It is good that children work, but they should work for their own interest and choice, and in an area that they love, not in a environment where they are not feeling comfortable."
Many children in Kabul are still involved in child labour on the streets, in bakeries, restaurants and casual help in homes due to the weak economic status. Through Swedish International Development Cooperation's Holistic Community-based Child Protection project, Save the Children has created child-friendly centres in three districts of Kabul City. One of which, Sajad is a member of.
There are 50 street-working children attending each of the three centres with six facilitators running per centre. The overall aim of running these establishments is to ensure that these children have access to educational and recreational facilities that will help with proper development of the children's lives. There must be an increase in their awareness of their rights and be able to discuss their problems and concerns and be given a chance to seek solutions with proper help.
Sajad, lastly, stated that he only had one wish which, "...is that my two brothers become healthy, and we can live a happy life, as these decades of war have destroyed and damaged many people and families. I want to become a great engineer in the future, that I can change my family’s situation and bring welfare and joy to them.”