Afghanistan’s orphaned children finding new hope

Funded with the help of Australians, more than 900 young Afghans have a chance of inheriting a safer nation.

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Young Afghan children, preoccupied with kites and footballs, a world away from the dangers of their fractured homeland.

There are about 300 young Afghans seeking safety at the Hope House Orphanages, scattered across Afghanistan.

Among these children are those who’ve suffered through the insurgency, losing either one or both parents, and others whose families have broken down, says Sediq Rawi, co-founder of Hope House.

“What we did is to bring the feeling and the hope and the friendship of the Australian people back to the kids of Afghanistan.”

It’s an orphanage with a connection to Australia, founded by an Afghan refugee who now calls Australia home.

It survives through public donations and the support of the Australian embassy in Kabul, where the children find themselves today, riding the bikes purchased for them by embassy staff.

The Australian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Matt Anderson, says it’s an extraordinary contrast to the hostile environment just outside these walls.

“It’s important in a place like Kabul, in particular, to embrace normalcy when you can find it and this is a very, very normal thing to do. There’s no doubt that Kabul is a can be a confronting security situation but for these kids, having visited their orphanage, they’re as safe in their orphanage as they can be and hopefully they’re as safe here as they can be.”

Through the orphanages, they attend public schools and there’s a focus on helping them become self-sufficient.

Semin Qasmi, from the Australian Embassy, hopes they’ll inherit a more peaceful and secure future.

“In most provinces in most parts of the country where the insurgency is the main issue there are kids who don’t have these opportunities so the ones who are given these opportunities, definitely it provides them with hope.”

14 years since the Hope House’s inception, the shelter has seen its first group of children graduate.

They’re not only qualifying for university, but some have married and started their own families.