Dozens of orphans face uncertain future in Sar-e-Pul

By Muhammad Qasem

A number of orphans pose for a photograph with local authorities on May 1, 2021, in Sar-e-Pul city. [Kunduz Department of Women's Affairs]

A number of orphans pose for a photograph with local authorities on May 1, 2021, in Sar-e-Pul city. [Kunduz Department of Women's Affairs]

KUNDUZ -- The closure of the provincial orphanage in Sar-e-Pul city nine months ago due to lack of funding has put in limbo the futures of as many as 60 children staying with relatives -- who themselves are suffering from economic hardship and uncertainty.

The children and their relatives say they want the services restored at the orphanage so the children can receive proper care.

Imam Ali, 67, a resident of Sar-e-Pul city, said he cannot afford to feed his three grandchildren, all of whom were previously living in the orphanage.

"My two sons ... were a police officer and a soldier," he said. "Unfortunately, they were both martyred, and now I cannot support their children."

"I have a 12-year-old grandchild from my deceased son, whose wife married another man and left her son under my care. Similarly, my second martyred son left behind two children," Ali said. "I don't make enough to feed them."

His sons died during fighting in 2018 in Sayyad district, Sar-e-Pul, and the children were then admitted to the orphanage, he said.

"I call on the government to reopen the orphanage so that people like me can send back their orphaned children for better care and guardianship," he said.

Sayefurrahman, 10, also wants to return to the orphanage.

"My father was killed by unknown people eight years ago, and my mother married another man," he said. "My grandfather, therefore, enrolled me in the orphanage."

"The services and facilities at the orphanage were great," Sayefurrahman said, noting that the children in it had access to education and adequate food.

"However, I have been living with my grandfather for the past several months and I wonder how I am going to survive and what future awaits me without those benefits," he said.

He said his grandfather is too old to work and suffers from severe economic hardships.

Mohammad Ilyas, 11, is in a similar situation.

"I had to go to my uncle's home after they dismissed us from the orphanage," he said. "I do not eat enough, nor do I have proper clothes, and my uncle is a poor man. Feeding his own children costs him everything he earns."

Children's futures in limbo

Officials say they are raising funds to be able to bring the children back to the orphanage.

"Some 60 orphan children lived in the orphanage but are now living with relatives," said Mohammad Mobasher, provincial director of the labour and social affairs directorate in Sar-e-Pul.

"We have been in touch with Save the Children, the United Nations Children's Fund [UNICEF] and ACTED [Agency for Technical Co-operation and Development, a French NGO] to help us bring these children back to the orphanage," he said.

"We will continue our efforts, and whenever these organisations start providing support, we will return the children to the orphanage," he said.

The orphanage's staff report to their remaining duties daily and will spare no efforts to ensure the children's care if they return, said Mobasher.

Most of the orphanage's residents are the children of deceased security personnel, said Sebghatullah Mahmoodi, a resident of Sar-e-Pul.

"According to reports, the majority of orphanages in several provinces where children of [deceased] security personnel were cared for have closed and their future remains in limbo," he said.

"Children need compassion and empathy, especially when they have no parents," he said. "In such circumstances, their only hope is that the [authorities] take very good care of them and enable their education until they grow up and know how to build their own lives."

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If charities do not torture Afghan children mentally, then the costs they incur in the orphanages should be paid to the children's relatives to take care of them regularly and keep them safe from any danger. To my knowledge (not all, there are exceptions), children are sexually abused, raped, and harassed in such places. They are raised without seeing their relatives, and the next day they go to the fighting front lines that suffer the society in one way or another. In general, these orphanages are of no use. When they are without a father, other family members or close relatives should be helped to care for them, so they do not make a headache for the community.


I disagree with the continuation of the work of the orphanages. Although they can provide food, shelter, and education to children for a limited period, orphanages keep them away from the community, and they grow up feeling deprived. To solve the problem of orphans, the government should calculate the total budget of the orphanages and then, with the help of international organizations and charities, allow the children to live with their closest relatives and pay a certain amount of money to protect the children. On the one hand, the children will be better educated. On the other hand, the children will be saved from the negative effects of orphanages, but this may require a lot of money and strong foundations initially, which unfortunately is not the case in Afghanistan.


In this case, last year Tolonews published a news, which I will share with the readers for their information: ((Officials: Out of 68 government orphanages, only 9 are active With the growing number of orphans in the country and concerns about it. officials say that, only nine government orphanages are currently operating across the country. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs says that out of 68 governmental orphanages in the country, only nine governmental and 36 private orphanages continue to operate. Mohammad Younas Siddiqui, director of publications at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, told TOLOnews, "we currently have nine active governmental orphanages, in addition to thirty-six private orphanages. We are trying to reactivate other orphanages with the availability of funding." A number of experts raise concern on the high number of orphans and expect the government to take care of these children. "The people of Afghanistan must join together, even those with low income, if we could collect two hundred Afghanis from one alley, we can get their stationary for them and could dress them up," Sayed Massoud, an economic expert, told TOLOnews. Hedayatullah has been living in one of the capital's orphanages for six years. He says he lost his father in an incident six years ago and a year later his sick mother passed away and left him alone. "I expect the Islamic Emirate to pay attention to those who do not have parents like me," said an orphan Hedayatullah. Thousa


Unfortunately, these are not the only children in Sar-e-Pul who are in such a precarious situation, but thousands of orphans across the country are suffering from the same situation. Most of these children have been orphaned by the Taliban as a result of their war and terror, but the Taliban do not consider themselves responsible for these children at all. Their fathers lost their lives to defend our homeland, but unfortunately, there is no national government in the country, and these poor children face an unknown fate instead of receiving compassion and kindness. We could expect nothing from the irresponsible and illegal government of Taliban, but at least the international NGOs that receive funds in the name of Afghan children and women should feel a little responsibility and take care of these children.