Trip Report from Najib Aziz, President and Founder of The Children of War,
May 2008 report
Flour such an important staple in the life of the people-- and unfortunately in Afghanistan, it is quickly becoming too expensive for people to buy.
From neighborhood streets, to bazaar corners, to the poor torn-down ravaged homes of Afghan citizens, the eyes of each individual are in pursuit of flour. Women and men, the children and the elderly, the affluent and the indigent, the instructors and the pupils all alike have forgotten their need for all else but flour.
On the 14th of May, 2008, in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan, a riot broke out as a result of hunger. Out of desperation, citizens ransacked grocery stores and stole sacks of flour and rice.
Desperation, weakness, and hunger have tied the hands and feet of the poor, vulnerable Afghans, tighter and tighter. In the face of inflation, the economic situation has deteriorated more than the nation has ever witnessed. Flour and bread prices suddenly doubled in the span of two weeks in May, after neighboring Pakistan blocked wheat and flour exports. The same sack of flour that cost 700 Afghanis in early May is now fluctuating between 2,200-2,500 Afghanis. Likewise, the price of a 7 kilo sack of rice has gone up from 200 Afghanis to 700 Afghanis. Inflation continues to drive prices upwards, without limitations, thus preventing workers from affording anything. If a working citizen of Afghanistan is unable to afford a mere sack of flour, then you can imagine how difficult it is for the unemployed, the widowers, and the orphaned children.
I saw the desperation of Afghans in the streets of Kabul City and the Parwan Province. Their pleas for just a sack of flour reminded me of the terrible conditions of Afghans in the refugee camps of Pakistan of the 80's and 90's.
Unfortunately in Afghanistan, the basics and staples of life are unattainable for most who struggle to survive the skyrocketing living costs.
More in Afghanistan
Behind the Pule-E-Kishtee Mosque in Kabul, that same stale bread that was provided complimentary to the people in refugee camps is now available for sale, and desperate people are more than willing to pay for it.
Administrators from one of our TCOW Kabul schools requested that we assist needy people by purchasing flour for the local teachers, government workers, and janitors whom have not been paid their salary for the past two months. These workers, despite no recent paydays, have continued to return to work each day, for fear that they may ultimately lose their jobs. One can understand the logic, even how absurd the situation. When we approached them, most requested that even a one 7-kilogram sack of flour would be of great assistance.
What we saw in Kabul city and Parwan Province is honestly a very heartbreaking situation.
Should I tell you about the fathers who leave their homes at the crack of dawn in hopes to find food or work? Only to return late in the evening with empty hands and pockets.
Should I tell you about the mothers who try to put their famished children to sleep in hopes of providing them with food in the morning?
In the past, when we visited our schools in Kabul and Paghman, behind the school doors stood only a handful of individuals, awaiting our help and arrival. Today, that number has at least tripled, with nearly 100 people standing behind those same doors on our most recent visit. The only demand these individuals had was for a sack of flour-- such a simple request.
Now I make my plea to you to listen to their cries and help them out. Please, don't let the helpless and poor Afghan citizens fall victim to the exploitative games constantly being played out.
You don't need to donate to the Children of War. Find whatever organization or method you can to help-- Afghanistan is quickly becoming (again) a forgotten nation.