The Innocent By-Standers of War

Sent out to collect cardboard for cooking.

Washing cars on the side of the street

Taking a rest...

Boy who shines shoes on way to school

2 Boys selling plastic bags to a market shopper

Stolen childhood

Young children sent out to work

The face of so many Afghan youth

Trying to convince the owner to let him wash the car

34 years of war has taken its toll on many Afghan families. For several generations families have lost loved ones due to the violence and rampant destruction brought on by war. Some of those who have suffered the most are the children. There are thousands of children that have lost one, and in many cases both parents, as a result of IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devises), suicide attacks, collateral damage in military raids, and sickness due to the dilapidated infrastructure of a war zone. Many times the sole surviving parent does not have the means or ability to support their children and therefore the children are turned over to “Children’s Homes” or sent to work the streets in order to support their families. In the case of larger families a few of the children are sent to “Children’s Homes” in order to cut down the number of mouths to feed at home, thus splitting up the family unit that has already lost the family patriarch or matriarch.

Many of those sent out each day to work are young boys and girls. These children are sent out to sell chewing gum, magazines and note books, plastic bags, collect items that can be used as fire wood, shine shoes on the way to or from school, or wash cars with a bucket on the side of the road, in order to help support their families. When you peer into the faces of these young children you don’t see happy, vibrant, youthful children, you see faces and the body language of people who have lived a lifetime of hardship. These children have seen and endured far more than what a person their age should ever experience. Many times these experiences are far above what you or I could ever imagine. They understand what it is like to work hard and still go to bed hungry, to have nothing, not even a coat when the weather is -10 *F, and they have all experienced the loss of family. A door has opened for these children, a door that will not only get them off the streets and provide for their families, but a door that will transform, mold, and shape their futures. TOI is that door.

TOI offers free vocational training and job placement to children who have suffered the loss of a parent. By providing training courses these children can now see past the violence and destruction that has plagued their country and their lives. By providing job placement they can now provide for their families and even save money for University. They can now see the light start to shine in what has been a very dark world for them. They now have options.