A Place to Call Home
by Gwen Neely*
Abdul Baqui, a 10-year-old Kuchi boy, supports his sick mother and three younger sisters, who are only eight, five, and four years old. Refugees for many years in Pakistan, they returned to their homeland three years ago, without a father, without a home, and without an income. Baqui and his family received land, but were living in a tent. The harsh winters in Maidan Shar and the lack of adequate housing forced Baqui and his family to move to Jalalabad during the winter months. Baqui does his best to provide for his mother and sisters, but his age and the lack of jobs in Afghanistan make it extremely difficult.
Building a New Home
When UMCOR offered families in Maidan Shar the opportunity to build shelters, Baqui asked the community leader to consider his family as one of the 130 shelter recipients. The leader knew Baqui’s situation was among worst of the 600 families in their community. He also knew Baqui was a driven and focused boy, and so he recommended Baqui's family as one of the beneficiaries of UMCOR’s shelter program.
Baqui was determined to construct a safe and secure home for his family. He built one full wall of the shelter on his own, and the community helped him to finish the rest. Now, Baqui and his family are living in their UMCOR shelter and no longer have to migrate back and forth to Jalalabad, further easing the burden for his sick mother. They have also benefited from other UMCOR programs, including the receipt of two milk bearing goats, blankets, firewood, a bukari stove as well as health and school kits.
School is Now a Priority
The school kits have been especially helpful to Baqui in his new quest of achieving an education that will help him better support his family. Baqui is excelling in school. He has completed the coursework for four grades during the past two school years. While school keeps him from working to support his family now, the community helps his family with food and money whenever they can.
Abdul Baqui’s younger sister is just as determined as her brother. She is currently learning to weave carpets from the women in her community and eventually will earn an income for their family. Abdul Baqui, his family, and their community are a sign of the hope that lives and grows in Afghanistan.
How You Can Help
UMCOR began working in Afghanistan in 2002. UMCOR's programs help the people of Afghanistan recover from decades of conflict and years of drought. Programs in reconstruction, income generation, health and education, emergency response and intervention all work together to help those returning Afghanistan to build a new life.
*Neely was a monitoring and evaluation consultant for UMCOR.