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Eid “happiness” has no meaning for orphans

Eid “happiness” has no meaning for orphans

By
On
Aug 30, 2011 - 14:47

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): "Because I have nowhere to visit, and have no one to visit me, Eid brings no joy to me and it is like any other day," says 12-year-old Khan Mohammad.

Mohammad is one of 162 orphans living in the Alawuddin Orphanage in Kabul.

The orphanage is named after Alawuddin, a locality on the Darulaman Road. It houses children between the ages of four and 18 who have lost their parents.

Mohammad has lived there with his three younger brothers for the last three and a half years.

His father was killed in a bomb blast while selling fruit in Kart-e-Se.

His mother led the household after his father passed away, the teenager recalled. But she was killed by a stray bullet while she was working in the family’s fruit garden.

The children then lived with their uncle, until their aunt kicked them out. Their uncle then brought them to the orphanage.

"Therefore, Eid is meaningless for me. I don’t know what Eid is all about," Khan repeated. The word “Eid” means happiness in Arabic.

Khan cast down his eyes in shame as he spoke, saying he has no relatives to visit him. "No one has offered me Eidi (a gift or money given on Eid) yet," he whispered, his lips dry.

The orphanage distributes new clothes on Eid, and Muhammad says the orphans spend the holiday in their rooms.

Muhammad attends fourth grade in the orphanage. The children there attend coeducational classes until they are 12. Boys and girls live in separate areas of the orphanage.

Fahima, 14, who goes by a single name, has lived in the orphanage for six years, since losing her parents in a firefight between different factions.

"When Eid comes, my classmates who have a single parent leave and then I feel lonely and wish that one of my parents had lived, so I could spend Eid with them!" she said.

The seventh-grader said she was used to orphan life. She said: “We are given new clothes and other stuff on Eid; we study here and we are happy with it.”

"I want the government and opposition groups to avoid destroying the lives of children like us by depriving children of their parents," Fahima said, tearing up.

She said she wanted to become a famous doctor or footballer to help other orphans like herself.  

The 14-year-old Susan, who has lived in the orphanage for the last five years, said she lost her parents when a rocket landed on their house in the northern province of Badakhshan.

She lived with her father’s sister until she passed away from an illness. She then lived with her brother, whose wife would physically abuse her at times. Her brother then brought her to the orphanage.

"I don’t feel lonely at the orphanage; we are sisters to one another and suffer the same pain," she said. She spends Eid singing and eating with the other girls in the orphanage.

"I want to become a teacher in the future and serve the other orphans," she confidently hoped.

Also known as Watan orphanage, the compound was established in 1981 under the Ministry of Educationinfo-icon (MoE), but operates under the Ministry of Public Works and Social Affairs.

Sayed Abdullah Hashimi, Director of Orphanages in the Ministry of Public Works and Social Affairs, said there were 62 girls and 100 boys in the orphanage.

The students are taught English, computer skills, math, and preparation for college entrance examinations in addition to the curriculum provided by the MoE, he explained.

He complained of insufficient funds for the students' food. The orphanage has only about 75 afghanis per student per day, the equivalent of id="mce_marker".50.

He urged national businessmen, nongovernmental organizations, and government to help the students and visit them on Eid.

There are also 471 orphans living in an orphanage in the Tahia-Maskan locality of capital Kabul.

mam/kg

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