KABUL (SW) – At a very young age, Waris walks miles in harsh winter to gather plastic waste to be sold so he can support his family of 10 people comprising of a drug addict father, an ailing mother and the minor siblings.
Waris, who lives with his family in the Kher Khan area of Kabul, wakes up every morning to begin search for recycleable waste on the streets. “I collect bottles daily and sell them, I earn 30 to 40 afghanis daily. Early in the morning, I collect the paper cartons for warming the house and the plastic for sell. My father is an addicted so I have to work. ”
His younger brother, Younes, who is six years old, says he also has to join with his brother for collecting plastic objects to earn a livelihood. While it was clear from the color of his face that he was feeling cold, but he says, “It’s not cold, we have no heater in the house so we don’t feel cold out here.”
A little further from these two brothers, two more young children were looking for plastic and cartons in the garbage.
They introduced themselves as Mushtaq and Osama, 5 and nine years old respectively. the nine-year-old Osama said he is the only breadwinner of his seven-member family. He goes out of the house seven in the morning and, until the it becomes darkened, to search the city’s garbage points. “I collect bottles daily and make up to 100 afghani. My father is now at home due to unemployment. We have no heater, I have to collect a carton so that we can warm the house at night.”
A few steps farther, another child named Mushtaq, who was 13 years old. “I get started early in the morning and go home at night. We have no fuel at home so I have to collect the cartons for heating”.
In the other part of the city, I encountered a young boy sitting on a cold ground with few shoe polishing items waiting for someone to come and ask him to polish the shoes. The boy, around eight years old, introduced himself as Mohammad Hassan. “We are 4 people in the house, no one else is working,” he says. “The money I earn in the day is not enough, my mother is sick and we don’t have the money to treat her. My older brother doesn’t work either. ”
Mohammad Hassan added that he earns around 30 or 40 afghanis a day that is just not enough to feed his parents and siblings.