It’s 6:00am and 10 year old Razia is heading out the door. With her back pack in hand, she heads to school anxious to learn all she can, but first she must make a stop. Before going to school Razia has to go to work. Her job, approaching strangers on the street trying to sell them chewing gum and magazines.
Razia loves school. She loves to learn and read anything she can get her hands on. She is determined to make something of herself and save her family from the constant hunger pains that plague them all. You see, Razia’a father was in the Afghan National Army and was killed by an IED (Improvised Explosive Devise) that was set by the Taliban. Since her father’s death Razia, her mother, and her 4 younger siblings have all suffered. Razia’s mother grew up during the Taliban years therefore she is uneducated and has no work experience. All of Razia’s extended family lives in other countries, so there is no one here to help them. Thus putting the weight of supporting the family on the shoulders of 10 year old Razia.
Razia gets up early each morning so that she can hit the streets trying to sell her wares to people on their way to work. From 6:00am to 11:30am she approaches strangers trying to sell her items of chewing gum, magazines, and notebooks. Her backpack is not only used for her school books, but it is also packed full of her items she sells. On any given day Razia may make 80Afs ($1.41) in profits. If she has a good day she may be able to afford buying a samosa (small meet pie) before going to school at 12:00pm, but most days this is not the case and she goes to school hungry.
Razia is a very intelligent and compassionate girl, but to look at her you would never know that she is 10 years old. To look at her face one sees age that comes with hardship and turmoil. The sparkle of being a happy carefree child is gone from her eyes. Her body language is that of a mature adult who has lost all its youthfulness. Her body now speaks determination and drive, determination to bring home enough money feed her family, drive to learn all she can so that one day she can get a good job making good money so that her family has everything they need.
When she grows up, Razia wants to be a professor at one of the local universities. She understands that education is important and wants to teach others. By doing this she hopes the future of Afghanistan will be different, that maybe the next generation of children will not have to suffer the way so many children in her generation have suffered. That women will be educated and able to work outside the home, that the economy will continue to improve, and that they can put the pain of war behind them. She has big dreams for a little girl.