‘My family must starve when I return home empty-handed’
MAIMANA (Pajhwok): Ten-years-old Sibghatullah, whose father was killed during a fight with Taliban militants, sells bolanis to eke out a living for his family. The boy says his mother and siblings must starve when he returns home empty-handed after no sales sometimes.
Actual resident of Qarayai area of Almar district of northern Faryab province, Sibghatullah’s family migrated to Qaisar district after his father was killed by the Taliban.
The orphaned boy said his family was a happy family and all his sisters and brothers would go to school when their father was alive.
“I should accept hard labour to feed my six-member family since our father is no more.”
The family is living in a ruined house which has no roof to protect them from rain and snow. The family has covered the rooftop with a carpet which has many holes.
Sibghatullah sells 100 to 150 bolanis a day in Qaisar district to feed her widowed mother, three sisters and two younger brothers.
Wearing old clothes and torn sandals, the boy walks past different parts of the district’s bazaar to sell bolanis --- a flat-bread baked or fried with a vegetable filling.
“Buy hot bolanis mixed with vegetable and potatos,” Sibghatullah loudly shouts as he goes from one place to another in the bazaar.
“Three years ago when my father was killed in a fight with Taliban, no one helped us and we had nothing at home to eat. My mother brought us to Qaisar district where we found a house without rent,” Sibghatullah recalled.
Cleaning his nose with his sleeve vent and feeling cold, he said his mother daily baked bolanis for him to sell and buy 10 breads with the money. His family has to eat only the breads as they cannot afford to buy other food.
Feeling sad with his eyes looking tearful, he said: “Sometimes the adults in the bazaar harass me, they eat my bolanis but do not pay money, sometimes I cannot sell boalnis and return home empty-handed and all the family spends the night hungry.”
He was interested in school and getting education like other children, but it was more important for him to work and earn money for his family’s survival. Sibghatullah asked the government to provide them a house and some food.
Sanam, his mother while shedding tears, said their situation deteriorated after one year of her husband’s death. She said they had been living with family of her father-in-law, who treated them badly because they too had no income.
“My husband was a poor man, a farmer, but after Taliban militants attacked our villages, local militia commanders sent him to fight against militants and he was killed in the fight,” she said.
She said her husband had no personal house or property and they had to shift to the house of a kind man in Qaisar district.
“My father has died and I have no brother. Our only breadwinner is my elder son Sibghatullah who at least can feed us with bread,” Sanam said, while continuously shedding tears.
“We cannot buy rice, meat or any other food cooked in oil even in an entire month, we just eat the breads Sibghatullah buys from bazaar after he sells his bolanis,” she added.
The mother said she had the skill to weave carpets but she could not afford to buy its materials. “I am very concerned about the future, if the owner of this house takes us out then we have no other shelter to live in,” she said.
However, Sibghatullah said Qaisar People’s Council earlier last year had helped them and donated six bags of flour, five bags of rice, four tins of ghee, two bags of wheat, an amount of tea and sugar as well as 32,000 afghanis cash.
After the assistance, he gained courage to attend school, but he restarted selling bolanis and left the school after the aid had finished.
Ahmad Farhad Qaisari, head of Qaisar People’s Council, said one day he saw Sibghatullah crying in the bazaar after he could not sell his bolanis. “I asked Sibghatullah what happened?.”
“I bought some bread for him and informed local culturists and media workers to raise the child’s voice and help his family, after that we collected an amount of money and food and we send him to school,” he said.
He said Sibghatullah was happily when he was attending school and people also bought him all education materials, but he was recently forced by poverty into selling bolanis again.
Qaisari said many families like that of Sibghatullah suffered due to unequal distribution of aid and government’s disregard for poor people.
He said most aid donations were shared among powerful individuals and the poor people like Sibghatullah had to suffer from poverty.
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