We make our way from the Afghan province of Laghman to the mountain villages. Vast fields greet us first. People are trying to make a living from Afghanistan's barren soil. I see dozens of children in the fields. They have great burdens on their backs…
We drive through places that are almost no roads. After an exhausting 3-hour drive, we arrive at the village. As soon as we park our car, the men of the village surround us. As they tell us why we have come, they smile and begin to show us around the village with a warm welcome. Since there was no suitable land for farming in the village, they brought the land from other places and planted small fields this way. The villagers meet their water needs from the stream, but because of the drought, the water in the stream has greatly diminished. Now they are afraid that the stream will dry up completely.
As we come to the edge of the stream, I see a small shepherd trying to lead his goats over the rocks. I meet the shepherd who has come to us with his goats. His name is Abdulaziz, he is only 9 years old. When his father died during the war, he moved to the village with his uncle. When I ask him why he is a shepherd, he proudly says that this is normal for the children here, that they all work together to support their families. As I continue walking through the village, I see that all the children are busy doing something. Some of them are pruning trees, others are gathering fruits and vegetables in their small gardens or taking care of the animals.
We visit one of the village's orphaned families. Izzetullah and his brother Ubeydullah's father died as a result of an attack when he went to the city to look for work. Two families live in one house. When their father died, they moved to the house of one of their neighbors in the village due to lack of money. They divided the house in half with a thin curtain. There is a small rug on the floor and enough pillows for three people to sleep on. When one of the villagers gave them a job, they would do it with their mother. Sometimes they worked in the fields and sometimes they herded animals. If there was no work, the neighbors behind the curtain shared their food with them, if at all. We help the families who live in this small house to the extent that they can meet their basic needs regularly for a while.
The burden of being a child in Afghanistan is very heavy. They are trying to stay afloat in a small mountain village that is barely accessible even by car. Like the children in the field, we take on the problems of the people and leave at sunset with the blessing of the villagers.