Earlier this year, the BBC aired a report about the street children in Afghanistan and how the Aschiana Foundation was trying to help them. These children are not in school and are forced to work or beg in order to support their families.
The cruel years of war have had a devastating impact on Afghan children. Poverty, malnutrition, and illiteracy create a vicious cycle. These kids are in constant danger on the streets, begging for bread for their family.
In my follow-up article to the BBC report, I suggested a take-home ration for these children to help get them off the streets. This would make an excellent addition to the literacy and tutoring Aschiana is providing. A partnership with a larger organization would be needed to get a take-home ration initiative going.
My first thought was the World Food Programme (WFP), with their vast experience in this area. With just an exchange of a few messages to get the idea out there, WFP is now partnering with the Aschiana Foundation on a take-home ration program.
Challiss McDonough of WFP says, "We are supporting more than 2,000 children at Aschiana centers around Kabul. They receive a full food-for-training ration for their families, consisting of wheat, pulses, vegetable oil and salt. It's the beginning of a very positive partnership between WFP and Aschiana to help these children build a brighter future for themselves."
The Aschiana Foundation helps children who cannot attend school full time because they must work to support themselves and their families. (courtesy Aschiana Foundation).
The road ahead in Afghanistan needs to focus on child feeding, rehabilitation, and education. Supporting the work of Aschiana, WFP, and other agencies helping children in Afghanistan is most crucial.
In addition, there is a serious situation developing with potential shortages of supplementary Plumpy'nut for Afghan infants. The supplementary Plumpy'nut is vital for treating malnutrition in children. Since WFP has such low funding, this pipeline break could occur early next year if action is not taken.
There has been so much debate on what to do about Afghanistan. One thing there should be no debate on is the importance of food for education for the children. A systematic program reaching all children is where the focus needs to be on building Afghanistan's future.