Winters in northern Afghanistan
While those of us unfamiliar with the climate of the Middle East and Central Asia might assume that winters in the region are relatively temperate, this isn’t true for many parts of Afghanistan. In northern Afghanistan, the winter season brings very cold temperatures akin to the frigid cold of New York City or Boston. Helping families heat their homes throughout the winter is essential and worthwhile for Child Foundation. And it proved a particularly dire need in 2020-21.
In the winter of 2020-21, temperatures routinely dipped below freezing. There were many spells of chilling winds and snow. It was a harsh winter in northern Afghanistan and one of the coldest in recent years.
The Fuel for Families program, which aims to provide coal to families in northern Afghanistan with little else for heat in the winter, proved instrumental in helping families through these rough months. The fuel allowed families to stay warm and avoid other time-consuming, less effective, and safe ways of fighting the cold.
How children are affected
For many families in Afghanistan who don’t have access to fuel, they must have to resort to collecting thorn bushes or trash to burn. Frequently, this responsibility is shouldered by children in the family.
Saifullah and his siblings only go to school half the day because they spend every afternoon searching rubbish heaps and garbage dumps for burnable and resaleable trash. Because their family cannot afford wood or coal, this is the only way they can cook every day and stay warm.
Naghi-o-allah is another such example of a young boy who sacrifices for lack of fuel. He spends hours each day collecting thorn bushes. His family also cannot afford coal, and though thorn bushes burn up quickly, the family has little else they can do. As a result, he must collect a lot of thorn bushes. Such a time-consuming and labor-intensive task pulls him away from school and study time. You can learn more about how his family tries to get by in this video:
Collecting thorn bushes to use as fuel in winter
Collecting garbage for fuel.
Why fuel matters for education
At Child Foundation, we believe in not only supporting children’s education but also providing holistic support to children and their families. Access to food, housing, basic necessities, and healthcare are essential factors in enabling children to thrive. And we know that children who thrive are able to focus on school and pursue their education—and create a better future for themselves.
These are some of the main reasons behind our annual Fuel for Families campaign.
Naghi-o-allah’s story and hundreds of others demonstrate the link between providing fuel to families and supporting children’s education. Fuel is about more than heat; it’s about enabling children to have the comfort, time, and energy to pursue their education while also having a real and safer childhood.
An eighth-grader should never have to spend his days collecting bushes just so his family can stay warm. A child should never be put in the position of choosing between education and warmth.
The success of the Fuel for Families campaign 2020-21
For the winter of 2020-21, we held a Fuel for Families campaign for the third year in a row. During each year of the campaign, we’ve supported several hundred families. And this year, we’re happy to say that, despite the increased and deadly insecurity in Afghanistan and the new difficulties posed by COVID-19, we provided winter fuel to 324 families, thanks to our generous donors.
The future of Fuel for Families
We are proud of the success of the Fuel for Families campaign, and we will continue this important work in the years to come. We are incredibly grateful to those who contributed to this year’s program, and we hope the support will continue next year.
This isn’t a need that will be going away any time soon. It’s important that Child Foundation supports children in this holistic way.
We can help these children and their families by keeping them warm, keeping them in school, and keeping them on the path to success and happiness. You’re welcome to give hope and safety by giving to the Fuel for Families fund.
Published: April 7, 2021