The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
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RAWASB Newsletter, September 20, 2008

The Story of Sharifa and Shams — Siblings Who Found Refuge in a RAWA Orphanage

The RAWA orphanage changed their lives and they say that in the orphanage they found their home and their caring parents

Sharifa and Shams are siblings living in a RAWA orphanage. Sharifa was four and Shams was two when their father was killed by Taliban in 1998 in Yakawlang in Bamyan, a beautiful historical province of Afghanistan. Only Sharifa remembers hearing the news of her father’s death. Her mother became ill and died soon afterwards.

All Sharifa remembers of Afghanistan is war, bloodshed and killing. She remembers the terrible nights when they had to flee to the caves in the mountains to escape the murderous Taliban who were against their minority race, Hazara.“I don’t remember my mother and father,” Sharifa says with a tearstained face.

Finally, after two years Sharifa and Shams escaped the turbulent wars, and after a long journey by night, came to Pakistan. Their elder brother contacted RAWA through a person he knew and left them in a RAWA refugee camp in Peshawar. Shams was too young to enroll in school but Sharifa enrolled in the first grade immediately.

First they lived with a RAWA member who lovingly cared for them until they got old enough to join the girls’ and boys’ hostels.They both proved to be bright students. Sharifa joined the girls’ football and karate team organized by RAWA. Shams could not play on the boys’ team as he was too young; he had to wait to grow up.

After spending four years there, they moved to the RAWA orphanage.They continued in school, and soon Shams joined his sister in the same grade. In the orphanage, Sharifa began to like singing. She said,“My friends say I have a bad voice but I think they are jealous.” Shams loved to play football and was a fast runner. After a couple of years, they moved to the Watan Orphanage in Pakistan and are still living there. Today Sharifa is 14 and Shams is 12, and both of them are sponsored through Child Sponsorship Program of RAWA.

Shams is a sharp learner and has become a tutor in computers for the children in the orphanage. He even fixes computers at times. Shams is the most intelligent boy in his school and got first position in his class in 2008.

Both of them also take some responsibility in orphanages and teach newcomers how to follow the rules of the orphanage and make the most of their stay. Shams teaches computers to other children of the orphanage. Shams believes he would have become a shepherd had he been left in his village. Sharifa says her only option might have been to get married and become a housewife if she had not come to the RAWA school and orphanage.They want to become surgeons when they grow up. They both believe they are very lucky.

The RAWA orphanage changed their lives and they say that in the orphanage they found their home and their caring parents to nurture and care for them. They are only two of the many children who benefit from RAWA’s efforts here.

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