Razia* is 13 years old, is a music student in grade six at Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM). Two years ago, she received a scholarship from ANIM as part of a joint program between Save the Children and ANIM, which provides support to working street children. Razia comes from a very poor family in Kabul, and her parents are illiterate. Her father married twice, so Razia has 12 siblings (seven brothers and five sisters) and they all live in a very remote area on top of a mountain in Kabul. Razia used to work on the streets in Kabul after school, from noon till late at night. She said that by the time she would get home from work, it would already be dark in the city and she would fear for her safety. Children who work on the streets in the dark are far more vulnerable to assault, harassment, sexual abuse and even torture. Razia not only worked on the streets for two years, but she also worked together with her two siblings in selling plastic bags and polishing shoes.
Despite this, Razia also attended a school close to her house. However she was still concerned about her family’s financial situation. After four years of school, Razia felt that she was not getting the results that she had hoped for. Working on streets had far more incentives for her- as she could contribute to financially supporting her family. But just as the saying goes, “a challenge brings an opportunity”, working on the streets helped Razia to develop an ear for music that she heard on the streets and from the passing cars. She gained an interest in learning music but sadly there weren't any opportunities for her to do so. Two years ago, Save the Children through its collaboration agreement with ANIM, enrolled Razia in the scholarship program to pursue her education and learn music in order to avoid working on the street.
Razia is currently learning how to play the Setar, and is also attending school regularly. When playing the instrument Razia has a smile on her face and captivates the audience with her eyes. Razia herself says:
“I used to attend a school near my home in the morning and go out to sell plastics after school. I never expected that one day I would get out of that bad situation and have an opportunity to learn something of my own choice.”
“It is two years since I enrolled in ANIM and when I play my instrument and study my school curriculum, I forget all my trauma and grief. When I was at work I faced many challenges, people harassed me, and their view towards street working children - and particularly girls- was very humiliating. Learning music makes me happy and I do not feel deprived anymore.”
“When I was working and attending school, my biggest fear was my classmates discovering that I was a working street child. I did not want them to know because their behavior towards me would change. When they found out, I did not want to continue going to school anymore.”
“This program changed my life. I am very grateful to Save the Children and ANIM for this opportunity. I was not sure what was going to happen to me, but now I have plans for my life and the life of my siblings and my family.”
Razia is part of Zuhra Orchestra in ANIM, currently she is getting ready to perform in a Youth and children Music festival in Portugal this year.
“Save the Children and ANIM fulfilled my dream, rescued me from severe trauma and from being permanently disadvantaged. My entire family and I are grateful to Save the Children and ANIM for providing this opportunity where I see a great future, and for turning my dream and vision into reality”
ANIM provides annual scholarships for Save the Children through a collaborative agreement. The scholarships apply to all working street children who are under Save the Children Child Protection programs. All the street working children are based in Kabul, in the fourth grade and are interested to music. Through the audition process, which is conducted by ANIM, students are selected for enrollment. This project was started in 2015 and nearly 100 students have benefitted so far through education and music.