Watch the 20th Jan 2015 Afghan Street Kids Walk on video at
On the 20th of Jan, 2015, 80 Afghan street kids marched in Kabul to the doors of the Afghan Independent Human Right Commission, and asked for a school.
Let this be on record, that in a global economy based on force, in which, very soon, 1% of the world’s population will own as much as the rest of the world, in which children have little choice but to work, and in which children make up most of the civilian war casualties, these street kids were showing us all the way, the humble way of love.
Nothing romantic, but all patient, and beautiful!
They were not asking the Commission for a school. They were asking fellow human beings for a school, because they were asking for what all of us seem to be losing, the quiet human qualities to recognize what is valuable and to make peace with all: friendship, freedom and dignity.
Afghan street kids want a school
80 Afghan Street Kids walked in Kabul to ask for a school, led by Zekerullah, himself once a street kid
Rain on the 20th of Jan didn’t stop them
With dignity, the street kids walked
“I am your child. We want a school.”
Inam wishing everyone a Happy 2015!
Inam building his dream school from a lego set
Inam was excited about the walk
Inam watches in support as Ismael is interviewed
Inam in the protest line
“I want a school,
unlike a school.”
Inam, unaware he was making Afghan history,
walked, morphed into a mini-visionary, and understood
that we don’t get things by asking,
especially asking government officials in high, swivel or mahogany chairs.
We get bread by
fracturing the side of a used engine oil bottle,
strapping it on as our shoe cleaning box,
and sitting in the littered streets
polishing other people’s boots.
Though he doesn’t feel good
about his view of passing legs hidden in jeans or burqas,
there are customers here
in a commoditized life,
where, instead of growing food,
the city bangs on computers and copies sheaves of forms,
to extract from her slum-dwellers
their energies and bribes, and the land’s mineral flesh,
as well as their children’s.
Inam arrives for the walk,
zooming in for the lego set,
putting the blocks in place piece by piece,
the blue door
of his dream school,
‘where I can study’, safely,
he says, because you’ll understand this too,
‘I am your child.”
Zekerullah sold his wares in Bamiyan City
He fulfilled his promise to ex-U.S. Ambassador Eikenberry by returning to school
He coordinated the Borderfree Street Kids Team ( Zekerullah, Zarghuna, Hadisa, Farzana, Bismillah, Barath Khan ) in planning the walk
Zekerullah speaking with a reporter
Zekerullah represents change, and would have done Gandhi, Badshah Khan and Martin Luther King proud
Zekerullah, a volunteer teacher-coordinator, shared,
“I was once selling chewing gum,
cigarettes, pens, nail clippers and batteries,
from a wooden frame hung on my neck,
by hotel owners,
up, down, up and down the bazaar.”
He looks at them confidently,
as their teacher of nonviolence,
himself having been beaten by his teachers,
“Never think that you can’t study,
Never let anyone tell you can only be a street kid.”
You are not born a slave,
“We’re also human beings!”
I first photographed Zekerullah selling his street wares,
so seeing him walk in front
of children all eager to have a school,
echoing “We want dignity!”,
I saw Martin Luther King.
I wanted to tell Zekerullah to dance like he loves to,
to spark movements of uncontainable freedom among the children,
but his gait was already reflecting the colourless sky blue
captured in their exuberant Borderfree scarves.
I wish you had seen his creativity, and forgiveness,
as he marched like an earthquake with little kings and queens,
peacefully protesting our globally violent economy,
turning the rainy morning
into the million wishes
of small people everywhere.
Fatima walked like a seasoned activist
Fatima’s drawing on her previous work selling candies in the streets
Fatima in the Street Kids Program of the Afghan Peace Volunteers
Fatima wants to be a teacher
Zekerullah and I had spotted Fatima in a rabbit-eared pullover,
a stove mantel in her cold hands,
when we went to visit sick Mehdi,
having heard Ismael say, “He’s sleeping at home.
There’s no money to see the doctor.”
Fatima, a relative of Mehdi,
led us to his rented room,
“He’s just gone to the dispensary.”
I had cringed at the thought of customary drugs
poisoning Mehdi at a handsome pharmaceutical profit,
though today, Fatima, Mehdi, Ismael
and each street child walked like tall breadwinners.
“We don’t want charity!” she chorused after Zekerullah,
past unqualified pharmacies and inappropriate shopping complexes,
speaking to adult calculations
that leave kids wandering in the alleys
for a way to survive.
Fatima’s father was making the plastic spades of snow shovels,
hoping for the white rain to arrive
in desiccated Kabul.
“Fatima, go fetch some water!”
before a mining corporation siphons
the people’s minimal supply
to satiate the Aynak copper mine,
as noted by the colluding World Bank.
“We want to go to a good school…”
where learning is valued above metals and rare earth elements,
and where kids can be kids,
enquiring, curious, friendly
Fatima held the banner
‘We say ‘no’ to all forms of violence’
as if she was addressing all the stereotypes
heaped by governments on the poor,
on race, religion or some other human thought or trait,
breaking through the subterfuge,
saying with all her oppressed might,
‘”We want a school!”
The street kids were determined, and sincere
They were passionate
They were small, but hopeful and sure
They want a school