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Sunday, 27 January, 2002, 11:25 GMT
Kabul's lost children
Children in Kabul
Children lack recreation on the ruined streets of Kabul
By Marzia Adil in Kabul

Before the first ray of light is cast across the city, children begin their activity. They scurry, Koran pressed to their chest, to the mosques, for their religious lessons.

Others go to the well for water or run to the bakery to buy bread for the family. Night and day, for hours on end, the kids of Kabul are on the move.

Breakfast is a cup of tea. After this, the day starts in earnest.

Girl selling bread in Kabul
Children are often the main bread-winner for the family
The children of Kabul lead a tough life. Their weak voices, begging to passers-by, are an element of city life. They cry out for money. They speak of their hardship - no food, no clothes, no parents.

And many are in a pitiful condition. Their clothes are torn and filthy and they wander the streets barefoot and without direction.

Others work hard for very little.

They sell carrier bags, balloons, chewing gum, anything that may earn them even the smallest profit margin. They pitch their goods to stopping buses and cars. They wash cars and run errands.

These are Kabul's lost children. Their parents cannot afford the living cost for them and they are forced onto the streets, often becoming the main bread-winner for the family.

The lucky ones work part time to continue their education. But many more have no choice. They must work.

Children at school
Some children are lucky and receive education
There is no childhood for the victims of child poverty. They lack education, recreation and carry the heavy burden of an adult's life.

They forage in places of danger to gather mangled pieces of iron or wood to make fires. Mines are a constant enemy for these children.

Children in Kabul are disabled. They suffer from polio, tuberculosis. They are injured by mines.

Some children are fortunate. They lead good, healthy lives. They eat good food and receive good education. They learn foreign languages. But they are little in number. They are too few.

See also:

15 Jan 02 | South Asia
An Afghan nightmare
24 Dec 01 | Education
Gifts for Afghan children
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