Refugee camps have been known as the place for poverty and desperation. However, the one in Islamabad’s village of Afgan Basti has turned to a joyful environment for children living there with their partners who are scrambling to survive.
Juxtaposed to Pakistani capital Afgan Basti is a village that hosts Afghan and Pakistani families who escaped from armed clashes. Most of the Afghans are ethnically Pashtun and they are not registered. Therefore, they are not legally allowed to enjoy the facilities and opportunities United Nation and Pakistani government have provided. Some families have to stay in the camp nearly for 35 years.
The only job opportunity for men is the bazaar in the city center where they work as porter. There have not been a school for children. As a result, they have no connection with neither modern day technology nor education.
An ordinary person who live in modern cities with comfort cannot even imagine the level of poverty people in Afgan Basti live in. For children, every subject can turn to be a toy. A bottle on the street is enough to enjoy. A wheel remains to be a source of pleasure as long as it whirls.
Some sticks are sufficient to create a big smile on children’s face since they can now play cricket. Instead of relatively expensive nutty putty, Afghan children must prefer adobe. Skillful hands can shape adobe and make several animals. On the one side, boys are playing with marbles and on the other girls are busy with hopscotch.
One of them Habibullah summarized the life in the camp as saying “We have been here for five years. I love playing marbles. But we have a goat at home. I sometimes take it out. At the mornings I sell nylon bags in the bazaar but I am not exhausted. When I returned, I immediately started to play marbles.”
Just before the sun set, it is time for kite in Afgan Basti. Kites that are sailing on the air as day turns to night are symbols of hope in this part of the world.
KUZEY NEWS AGENCY