Xinhua, July 1, 2014

Feature: Extreme poverty drives Afghan children to work in odd jobs

"I am earning around 300 Afghanis ( about 5.2 U.S. dollars) per day and my mother and sisters cannot work"

By Jawid Omid

It may not be true in urban cities in other parts of the world but children in this capital city of Afghanistan are forced to work instead of being in school.

Mohammad Din, 10, is one of those poor Afghan children who are forced to work the whole day in a brick factory in Kabul to earn bread for their families.

"I have no choice but to work, I am the only breadwinner of my eight-member family. My father is dead, I am working here to earn money to support my family," Mohammad told Xinhua.

India is home to over 340 million destitute people and is the second poorest country in South Asia after strife-torn Afghanistan, says a poverty estimation study by Oxford University, UK.
In South Asia, Afghanistan had the highest level of destitution at 38 per cent... The study placed Afghanistan as the poorest country in South Asia, with 66 per cent (based on 2010-11 data) of its people being MPI poor...
Business Line, June 16, 2014

Children like Mohammad are doing odd jobs, from selling shopping bags and toilet paper to polishing shoes, washing cars and producing bricks as construction materials.

These Afghan children are forced to work at a very tender age.

"I like to go to school like other children, but who would give money for me and my family, I am earning around 300 Afghanis ( about 5.2 U.S. dollars) per day and my mother and sisters cannot work," Mohammad said.

He said that since his father was killed in a bomb blast one year ago, the responsibility of feeding his family rested on him and that is why he was forced to work.

Like Mohammad, many other children are working in brick factories all over Afghanistan.

"I work in the brick kiln from dawn to dusk and the factory owner provides me breakfast and lunch plus 80 Afghanis (about 1.4 U.S. dollars) per day," Bashir, 9, said when Xinhua talked to him at his work site.

Even though the post-Taliban Afghanistan has made considerable achievements over the past 13 years with the support of international community, the country still needs more time to recover from the ravages of the war.

Today in Afghanistan, more than 11 million children, 40 percent of them girls, are going to school. But around 4 million Afghan children still have no access to schools because of poverty, security problems, and restrictions due to tradition and religion.

Although there is no official statistics about the number of street children in Afghanistan, it is said that thousands of street children are now forced to become child laborers in the war- ravaged country.

The poor Afghan children are the most vulnerable segment in the conflict-ridden society. They are kidnapped by certain groups, exploited by unscrupulous individuals, sexually assaulted and even used as suicide bombers.

Originally published on June 5.

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