Karim’s Story

I remember when I was 9 years old my father had a stroke and became disabled. It has been a very difficult time for our family. I had to stop going to school and I became the family’s breadwinner. Since I was too young to work in a serious job and there were not enough jobs for everyone, I just started to walk on the streets and do what other boys of my age did, collect trash. Did I like this job? No. None of the kids liked this job, but we had no choice. Everyday from 7AM to 7PM, I wandered around the dusty streets of Kabul collecting plastic bottles, papers, plastic bags, etc. I knocked on the doors of many houses to see if they had a trash for me. In one day, I would collect up to 15 barrows of trash, my income was about 2500AFNs/$. In the last couple of years, there were not enough trash for all trash collectors, since many Aid organizations have left, and many expat hotels were closed due to security. I would make only six or seven barrows of waste a day, which means less income. The money I made every day I spent for food and to cover rent of the land where our tent is set. I remember us living in the tent over last 13 years. Life in the tent is very difficult, it is dusty in the summer, and it is cold in the winter. Today we have 15 family members live in the tent, among which are small kids, most of us work, but we still do not have enough money to buy a house.

The money I made every day I spent for food and to cover rent of the land where our tent is set. I remember us living in the tent over last 13 years. Life in the tent is very difficult, it is dusty in the summer, and it is cold in the winter. Today we have 15 family members live in the tent, among which are small kids, most of us work, but we still do not have enough money to buy a house.

Garbage collecting is not a stable job. Among the businesses I collected trash from was the T-O-M main office. One-day the Job Placement program manager of T-O-M contacted me. He offered me a job working as a guard in one of the businesses in Kabul. In the beginning, I was worried that I would not be able to work because all I saw and all I did in the past 11 years is collecting trash. I was excited and at the same time, I was not sure if I would be qualified for this position. I like working as a guard because it is clean and I have a chance for improvement, even though it is a lot of responsibility.  Today I have a stable job and a good salary. Today I am proud of myself and grateful to the Job Placement program. This new job gave me hope for a better future. There are still many boys on the streets that  make a living out of the trash, and each of them dreams to have a better life. They are like me end up picking up trash because there was no choice. Therefore, I dream and wish that every person would have options and choices in their lives.