Protecting vulnerable Afghan orphan children from abuse is an obligatory act upon every member of the Afghan population. We are obliged to provide them support and shelter in the best possible manner. However, the children are the future of a country. And the future of Afghanistan is in the hands of our children.
The current population of Afghanistan as of July 2022 is 40.7M, based on United Nations data. As per Data Reportal, approximately 48% are from 0-17 years old, and 1.6M of them are orphan children. Data shows that the country’s population is increasing at the rate 2.3%+ every year. Out of the total population of Afghanistan, 48.7% are female, and 51.3% are male. And from the start of 2022, 26.6% of the population lives in urban areas while 73.4% lives in rural areas.
Unfortunately, decades of war and insecurity in Afghanistan have displaced millions of Afghans inside and outside of the country. As a result, apart from ruins, poverty and unemployment, around 1.6M orphan children have been left facing serious economic issues. More than half of the population in Afghanistan lives under the poverty level. However, the ongoing war, poor economy, and displacement have exposed the orphans to the extreme situation of violence and abuse. As the conflicts increase and the war continues, we will witness an increase in the number of child casualties. One of the main reasons for early child marriage is the insecurity and conflicts in the country. UNICEF has identified Afghanistan as the worst place to be born in the world.
“Conflicts have affected lives of many children like me. I don’t want war anymore.” said Mohammad Nasim to Pajhwok News, a 14-year-old orphan resident of Badghis. “My father was alive if there was no war.” he added while reminding the difficult days of his life.
Mohammad Nasim sells pepper and dish masala in a handcart in Qala-e-Naw city, the provincial capital of Badghis. He wishes to become and engineer in the future.
Nasim is not the only child who has lost his father. Unfortunately, there are almost 1.6M orphans in the country who are even having worst financial and social situations than him. “Our house is rented and very old. We have nothing in the house. If my father was alive we would not have been begging”, said Humaira to Pajhwok News. Humaira is an 11-year-old orphan girl and her father was working in the former government’s security forces. Unfortunately, her father was killed in a battle. Ever since, she is begging with her mother and three sisters in Qala-e-Naw city of Badghis province. Due to extreme poverty, she cannot go to school and preferred to beg with her mother to continue staying alive.
Children in Afghanistan, especially those working on the streets are exposed to extreme violence. They mainly become the victims of sexual abuse and street harassment. Approximately 1500+ cases are recorded each year. The majority of the victims don’t reveal the bad experiences they went through. Unfortunately, violence against children is a worldwide problem, especially in countries where there is armed conflict and extreme poverty like Afghanistan. In 2015, the Humanitarian Response conducted a survey in Kabul, Jalalabad and Torkham (border with Pakistan). Based on their survey their most significant findings were:
Ahmad is a fourteen-year-old boy who was sexually assaulted many times since he was five years old. He narrated one of the incident to The Guardian. “One day a man asked me to buy him a pack of chewing gum. After I purchased and tried to handed it over to him, he forced me inside his home and raped me.”
On the other hand, the child mortality rate is the highest in Afghanistan. 1 out of 5 children dies before the age of 5 years old. Unfortunately, malnutrition is a major issue in the country, and is mostly due to extreme poverty. Mohammad Khan, a villager from northern Afghanistan, told Reuters that he sold his 40-day-old baby for 70,000 AFN ($780) to save his other children of dying from hunger.
Such incidents are increasing in number across the country as poverty has reached its peak. There remains no other choice but to sacrifice one of their nearest for the sake of other family members’ lives. Many such heartbreaking stories exist all over Afghanistan that are unimaginable for the other people of the world. On the other hand, orphans who are taken care by other family members, villagers, or adoptive parents are treated as little slaves. They are distinguished from their children and their lives and educations are provided a secondary attention.
Islam has emphasized and set great importance on the treatment and in protecting orphan children from abuse. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was an orphan too. He lost his father before he was born.
Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, “Whoever caresses the head of an orphan (in affection), solely for the sake of Allah, a good deed will be written to his account for every hair over which he passed his hand. – narrated by Abu Hurairah
Most of the orphans don’t have any source of income and/or a guardian to take care of them. This is where the Muslim community, charity organizations, and government have to step in and support the orphans.
Allah The Almighty lists the orphans after close relatives in many places in the Holy Quran. This means that we should not ignore the orphans while supporting ourselves, our close relatives, and the needy.
In Surah Baqarah, Ayat 83, Allah says;
وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ لاَ تَعْبُدُونَ إِلاَّ اللّهَ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَاناً وَذِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَقُولُواْ لِلنَّاسِ حُسْناً وَأَقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ وَآتُواْ الزَّكَاةَ ثُمَّ تَوَلَّيْتُمْ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً مِّنكُمْ وَأَنتُم مِّعْرِضُونَ
And ˹remember˺ when We took a covenant from the children of Israel ˹stating˺, “Worship none but Allah; be kind to parents, relatives, orphans and the needy; speak kindly to people; establish prayer; and pay alms-tax.” But you ˹Israelites˺ turned away—except for a few of you—and were indifferent.
Similarly, in Surah Baqarah, verse 215, Allah says;
يَسْأَلُونَكَ مَاذَا يُنفِقُونَ قُلْ مَا أَنفَقْتُم مِّنْ خَيْرٍ فَلِلْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالأَقْرَبِينَ وَالْيَتَامَى وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ وَمَا تَفْعَلُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ
“They ask you as to what they should spend. Say: “Whatever good you spend should be for parents, kinsmen, orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, Allah is all-aware of it.”
Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, “I and the person who looks after an orphan and provides for him, will be in Paradise like this,” putting his index and middle fingers together. [Bukhari]
Caring for an orphan is a way of softening your heart. The Prophet said, “If you want to soften your heart, then feed the poor and pat the head of the orphan.” (Musnad Ahmad). Whether you welcome an orphan at home or sponsor them in an orphanage, you will gain the reward. As per the Quran and Sunnah, we must bless and purify our wealth by giving charity. This does not decrease but rather increases the wealth. So, support the orphans with your charity.
On the other hand, supporting orphans is a form of Sadaqah Jariyah whose deeds will be received even after death. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “When a person dies, his deeds come to an end except for three: sadaqah jariyah (a continuous charity), or knowledge from which benefit is gained, or a righteous child who prays for him.” [Muslim]
So, if you sponsor an orphan, it will be counted as Sadaqah Jariyah. Because it will be spent in their education and accommodation. This helps them to be save from dangerous situations such as sexual abuse, street harassment, violence, and exploitation. As a result, you will receive the reward every time a child learns, make supplication to Allah and serve humanity.
According to the officials, 68 public orphanages were operating in Afghanistan. After the Taliban took over the country, 9 out of 68 orphanages remained open. The rest of the orphanages either closed or halted their operations due to lack of aid. Out of 9K+ orphan children, almost 5K+ were sent away from the orphanages. Most of the orphans are sent to their relatives as the financial issues increases, leaving thousands of orphans without shelter. Those still living in the orphanages are either having no relatives or their relatives are not capable to support them.
After the Taliban gained power in August 2022, US blocked over $9B of Afghanistan’s Central Bank reserves. It followed by the suspension of humanitarian aid by international donors. As a result, it put orphanages in extreme crisis, particularly food shortages, clothes, fuel, medical, and stationery supplies. The country is facing numerous hardships including economic challenges ever since. According to the UNFAO and the WFP, 22.8 million people, will face severe food shortages if the current crisis persists.
“We cannot meet the daily needs of the children with food, clothes, and medical supplies in a short period of time as we did in the past,” the manager of Kabul’s Teyiye Mesken orphanage, Mujib Rahman Hotak, said the TRT World. “We need everything from food, cloth and coal to keep them warm, and stationery for their education,” he added.
Many orphan children are still applying to the orphanages, but due to insufficient resources and operations of orphanages, they don’t get admission. After seizing power, Taliban officials visited orphanages and promised to provide support. But a concrete solution has not yet been offered.
Orphanage administrations are calling for the continuation of national and international aid to Afghanistan’s orphanages so they can keep their doors open. However, despite its necessity, aid is not sufficient according to authorities. There is also a need for the Taliban administration to step in and develop a concrete and continuous institutional policy with international aid in protecting orphan children from abuse.
Hayat Orphanage has been proudly serving and protecting many orphan children from abuse across the country. We are also looking after around 100 orphans in the orphanage itself located in the Laghman province of Afghanistan since 2013. Through your generosity, support and donations, our programs are continuously improving the lives of the orphans and protecting them from any kind of abuse or harassment.
Child protection is one of our main working areas, but we also seriously pay attention to their education, health, ethics, sport, capacity-building, and safe environment.
We aim to make them stand on their own feet with dignity and honor via an orphan sponsorship program. We are helping in creating a better future for them. As a result, it allows them to sustain themselves and their families in the long term, get access to better jobs, and avoid street work. It also helps them by abstaining in putting themselves in dangerous situations such as sexual abuse and street harassment.
However, these all would not have been possible without your donations. So, please donate and let’s protect vulnerable Afghan orphan children from abuse.
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