By: Naqib Sarwary
Naqib Sarwary is the fundraising advisor at Children Without Borders. He is a graduate of Global Political Studies from York University and currently works with Amnesty International Canada.
One of the most passionate and caring communities I have met are my fellow Afghan youth diaspora around the world who truly want to make a difference in Afghanistan. Filled with extraordinary skills, powerful energy, and an unwavering love for the nation, diaspora youth can and want to be part of Afghanistan’s development. I do not intend, in any way, to downplay the significant positive changes the youth currently residing in Afghanistan make. They are the ones who best understand the day-to-day challenges and help to address them to the best of their ability. I strongly believe that the partnership between youth in Afghanistan and abroad will result in the achievement of goals that would be otherwise challenging for either of the groups to succeed alone.
Youth diaspora represents the immense richness of Afghanistan and the host societies. They have a global perspective that helps bridge the divisions and bring about a global social cohesion. There is so much talent that could be dedicated, especially for areas of work where the diaspora youth’s help is most needed. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing conflicts in the country, the diaspora community has not been able to explore the beauties of their homeland as much as they would have wanted to but the ties still remain unbreakable. There are countless worthy causes that the diaspora youth can help with. One of the most needed investments is empowering the children of Afghanistan – who are shaping the future of the nation.
Children’s suffering is one of the most unpleasant realities of Afghanistan. A simple google search or an ordinary taxi ride from the Kabul Airport to your nearest destination will give you an overview of child street laborers who in the hottest days of the summer (and the coldest days of the winter) wipe out car windows for a small payment to live by. This is just a small portion of child laborers. A greater majority of children work in mining, welding, carpet weaving, metal factories, and in brick kilns that most of the time remain away from the day-to-day view of the public – and so of the global attention. Although these hazardous works operate outside of the law, there is little disapproval from the families or the government. Most families send their children not by choice but because of poverty so they are able to put food on their tables. In other words, there are no other feasible alternatives for these families. The government, on the other hand, unfortunately is both unwilling and unable to impose labor laws (Human Rights Watch, 2015).
What can diaspora youth do now?
Only in Europe, there are six and a half million Afghan diaspora – equivalent to 18.4% of Afghanistan’s population (Die Bundesregierung, 2018). Afghans abroad may provide a distinctive contribution to Afghanistan, particularly in terms of physical capital and productivity, eventually boosting job creation, living standards, and growth that will help Afghan children. Yet, there are many more and many other ways the diaspora communities can help. Below are some of the options that I invite you to consider.
1. Sponsor a child’s education:
Communities thrive because of education and yet millions of Afghan children cannot afford going to school. They have to work day in and day out to make a living, pay for their parents’ healthcare, pay off their intergenerational loans and more. One child at a time can change this reality. Organizations like Children Without Borders (CWB) operate to empower Afghan children through education. By sponsoring a child today, you are empowering a family and a nation. CWB ensures that the most qualified children are selected for the program and that their education becomes a priority.
2. Become a mentor:
If you have 1-2 hours a week or more to spare, this is another great way to help. Thanks to the globalized age, we are now connected in various ways across the globe and you can mentor a child online. Your experiences and global perspectives help children build high self-esteem and confidence. Through your conversations, you can teach your mentee English language and other school subjects. Over the past year, CWB has designed a mentorship program where it gives you the opportunity to connect with children in Afghanistan online and work with them. The skills you gain from mentoring is an added bonus to you.
3. Demand change through political activism:
Have you ever called your Member(s) of Parliament (MPs) and shared your concerns on any issues? Political activism matters! Wherever you are living, see how your government’s international aid looks like in the budget and if it helps Afghan children?
Call your MP and demand that your host country’s foreign aid be increased and invested in areas of sustainable development such as Afghan children’s education. When issues related to children’s rights in Afghanistan are discussed, ask your MPs to defend these rights in the parliament. Follow organizations and groups that defend children’s rights to be able to stand for children’s rights whenever needed.
4. Raise awareness:
It is no surprise that some of our friends in the real or virtual world are not aware of the human rights atrocities that take place against children in Afghanistan and around the world. You can help change this by simply sharing content on your social media pages and speaking among your friend’s circles.
I will, perhaps, conclude that the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan hurt children the most. There is a lot to be done and yet all starts with a small action that leads to a big change. There is hope. You can get on to this path and make this change.