Kabul orphanage struggles to feed its children as cash runs low By Reuters
© Reuters. Samira, 9 years old, and other orphanage children walk to Kabul’s school bus, Afghanistan on October 12, 2021. Samira hopes to become a doctor as a teenager. “I would like to save my country and help others with disease. I want girls in education.”
Jorge Silva and Gibran Naryyar Peshimam
KABUL, (Reuters) – Ahmad Khalil Mayan is the programme director of a large Kabul orphanage. He says he has been cutting down on how much fruit and meat he provides each week to the children because it is becoming more difficult for the family to afford.
Since the Afghan Taliban took control of Afghanistan and the millions of dollars of aid have suddenly stopped flowing, the Taliban leader has been desperate to contact and email donors both local and foreign, who had supported him in the past.
“Unfortunately most of them have fled the country — Afghan donors, foreign donor, embassies. “No one answers me when I phone them or email them,” Mayan (40), said to Reuters from the sprawling Shamsa Children’s Village north of the capital.
He said, “Now we are trying to manage the place with very limited money and with minimal food.”
(Open https://reut.rs/3FOCpLJ in an external browser to see a picture package on Kabul’s struggling orphanage.)
The orphanage houses around 130 children, ranging in age from 3 to 14. The orphanage has been in operation for over a decade and offers shelter to those who lost their parents, as well as the one who can’t afford it.
Samira (9 years old), a girl from Northeast Badakhshan Province, is one of them. She has lived at the orphanage almost 2 years since her father’s death and because her mother didn’t have enough money to provide for her siblings or herself.
On a cold day in Kabul, she enjoys playing outside with the same intensity she studies. She smiles as she swings higher as she does. Even though she’s only ten years old, she already takes extra classes to become a doctor.
She told Reuters with a sheepish grin, “I want my country to be free from diseases, and I want other girls in medicine to learn so they can become doctors like me.”
These orphanages play a significant role in Afghanistan where thousands have died in the wars which have devastated Afghanistan for over 40 years.
Mayan is being forced to make tough decisions due to a lack of funds, which has impacted charities and non-governmental organizations as well as ordinary Afghans, since the Taliban took over control.
Although the orphanage attempted to return a handful of children to their relatives, they returned one at a time.
Mayan stated that staff had to cut down on food portions and restrict the food types children were allowed to eat.
“Before they were giving them twice a month fruit and twice weekly meat, but now we only give those items once a fortnight or not at all.”
Faced with an imminent economic crisis, Taliban officials have asked Western governments for aid. They also called upon the United States to remove a blockage on Afghan central bank reserve funds held abroad worth over $9 billion.
Numerous countries refuse to recognize the Taliban as a terrorist insurgency that was fighting for foreign troops and Afghan allies.
Some countries demand that the group ensure basic civil liberties, including the ability for women to study secondary school or to work.
Taliban banned girls’ education during their rule from 1996 to 2001. They have since stated that they are currently working on this issue.
The weekly $200 limit on bank withdrawals is a way to prevent a run-on of hard currency. This means that the staff and children are not able to access sufficient funds.
Mayan worries that if things continue as they are, the orphanage won’t be able function for long.
This would have devastating consequences for children who are taught English, mathematics and computer skills in addition to physical education. They also need food and shelter.
Samira, an aspirant doctor, can still go to school outside her orphanage grounds due to her age. In the afternoon, she goes to extra tuition classes to make it more competitive.
Despite the fact that she has had to overcome hardships, her determination to succeed is not diminished. However, she recognizes that she might need to travel abroad in order to pursue her dreams.
“It is not permitted for me to study there.”