From Street to Orchestra

Monday 1 October 2018

Razia is 13 years old, and a student in grade six at Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) where she also studies music.

Razia is 13 years old, and a student in grade six at Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) where she also studies music. Two years ago, she received a scholarship from ANIM as part of a joint program between Save the Children and ANIM, to provide support to street working children.  Razia comes from a very poor family in Kabul, and her parents are illiterate. She has two mothers and 12 siblings (seven brothers and five sisters). They live in a very remote area on top of a mountain in Kabul. Razia used to work on the streets in Kabul after school, from noon till late at night. She said that by the time she got home from work, it would already be dark in the city. Darkness increases the risks to children working on the street, and Razia was fearful of being assaulted, harassed, sexually abused or tortured.  She worked on the streets for two years, together with her two siblings selling plastic bags and polishing shoes.

Despite working on the streets, Razia also attended school close to her house. However she was very concerned about her family’s financial situation.  After four years of school, Razia felt that she was not getting the results she had hoped for from school. Working on streets had more incentives for her than going to school. Just as the saying goes, “a challenge brings an opportunity”, working on streets helped Razia develop an ear for music which she heard on the streets and from the passing cars. She gained interest in learning music but there was no opportunity to do this. Two years ago Save the Children through its collaboration agreement with ANIM enrolled Razia in the scholarship program to pursue her education and learn music in order to avoid working on the street. 

Razia is currently learning how to play a Setar, and is also attending school regularly.

When playing the instrument Razia has a smile on her face capturing the audience with her eyes. This is what she says:

 “I used to attend school near my home in the morning and go out to sell plastics after school. I never expected that one day I would get out of that bad situation and have an opportunity to learn something of my own choice.”

“It is two years since I enrolled in ANIM and when I play my instrument and study my school curriculum, I forget all my trauma and grief. When I was at work I faced many challenges, people harassed me, and their view towards street working children particularly girls was very humiliating. Learning music makes me happy and I do not feel deprived anymore.”

“When I was working and attending school, my biggest fear was my classmates discovering that I was a street working child. I did not want them to know because their behavior towards me would change. When they found out, I did not want to continue going to school anymore.”

“This program changed my life. I am very grateful to Save the Children and ANIM for this opportunity. I was not sure what was going to happen to me, but now I have plans for my life and the life of my siblings and my family.”

Razia is part of Zuhra Orchestra in ANIM, currently she is getting ready to perform in Youth and children Music festival in Portugal this year.

“Save the Children and ANIM fulfilled my dream, rescued me from severe trauma and from being permanently disadvantaged. My entire family and I are grateful to Save the Children and ANIM for providing this opportunity where I see a great future, and for turning my dream and vision into reality”