“When I finish school, I hope to be a doctor and serve my country and my community,” says 13-year-old Shamila.
“I have always wanted to be a doctor,” says 12-year-old Kubra. “I see the doctor is very respected and saves the lives of people in my community.”
These are the dreams of two children in the war-torn nation of Afghanistan, a country ChildFund has worked in since 2001. As Afghanistan’s citizens have been at the center of conflicts this decade, children there are facing many health issues. The average life expectancy is only 44 years. Infant, children under 5 and maternal mortality rates are among the world’s highest. Twenty-five percent of children die before they turn 5.
Afghanistan also has a disproportionately high percentage of people under the age of 20 – the average age of Afghan residents is 17.7, compared to 36.7 in the U.S.
Nevertheless, we are working hard to improve the lives of children such as Shamila and Kubra. ChildFund has trained parents, community leaders and government staff to recognize and manage child-protection issues. In addition, we are supporting community-based literacy classes for children, training teachers and providing children with recreational areas in which to play. ChildFund is also developing health services and training health workers to diagnose and treat illnesses.
“While many news reports focus on military developments and corruption, we must not forget about the children there,” says ChildFund International President and CEO Anne Lynam Goddard. “Childhood is a one-time opportunity. Now is time for Afghan children to get back on their feet and move in a positive direction. It is the children who will determine Afghanistan’s future – a future in which we all share a stake.”
“If I get to be a doctor, I will make my family very proud as people in my community will look up to me and respect me,” says Kubra.
For more on our work in Afghanistan, click here.
More on Afghanistan
Population: 28.3 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 530,000 children and families
Did You Know?: Afghanistan has never participated in the Winter Olympic Games.
What’s next: Twitter chickens arrive in The Gambia