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As the very first child admitted to our program, Qutbuddin holds a special place in our hearts.
When we first met him, he had lost both parents to disease. He was working on the streets selling plastic bags, herding sheep, and as a shop assistant. Qutbuddin was emaciated and under constant physical abuse from his older brother. He looked sickly, with rotting teeth and a horrible skin condition from constant sun and wind exposure.
He regularly smoked cigarettes and hashish.
He suffered from tuberculosis and could barely run because his breathing was so bad.
His first days in our home were a complete shock to him. He couldn’t believe he was lucky enough to get picked off the streets to live in what was, for him, a luxurious house.
For several days he kept asking, “Is this really my home? Am I going to live here? Will you send me back to work on the streets?”
We had to constantly reassure him we would never let him go.
Despite his rough background, it didn’t take long for Qutbuddin to become the king of our little castle.
We were quickly able to get rid of Qutbuddin’s TB, his smoking stopped, his teeth and skin were treated, and he gained a healthy ten pounds.
With a greater sense of security and belonging, he took pride in going from complete illiteracy to the top ranking position of his class.
Before coming into our program, Aziz Agha wandered the streets, so poor he was sometimes completely naked. He was abusive to other kids and to anyone who came in contact with him.
Under our care, he quickly learned respect for others, as well as simple skills, like how to use eating utensils and the bathroom.
Having never attended a day of school, Aziz Agha was not only illiterate, he had never held a pencil or pen in his life.
His first days in class were challenging. He would try so hard to hold the pencil that he would cry from frustration. After many difficult moments, his teachers decided to start from scratch. They focused on showing him how to hold a pencil and sit properly in a chair.
Furniture was an entirely new experience.
Once he got the basics down, Aziz Agha excelled, even surpassing his elder brother in his studies, a source of great pride and happiness.
One night, Aziz Agha woke up with severe and crippling stomach pains. He was promptly rushed to the emergency room, where we were told he was suffering from appendicitis.
He was immediately operated on and kept in the hospital for observation. Thankfully, he emerged from the operation healthy as ever.
Amazingly, his surgery, including medicine and follow-up, cost less than $150.
Farzad, like many of our students, had never attended a day of school in his life. He was severely illiterate and unfamiliar with how to use eating utensils or the restroom.
In his first days of class, he focused until his eyes watered and he dropped his pencil, unable to write.
Our teachers held his hand and guided it until he became familiar with the instrument.
Farzad also had a terrible skin condition that caused him excruciating pain and discomfort. He wet the bed and had other emotional problems, too. The doctors he saw believed he had suffered severe trauma early in life.
Our staff worked day and night to toilet train the then nine-year-old boy.
We are proud to report he has conquered all of these difficulties and is now as happy a boy as you’ve ever seen.
When Mohammad al Din first entered our program, he was in a dire state.
His hair was muddy, matted, full of fleas, and looked as if it had never been washed in his life. His skin was dry, scaly, cracked, and burned from constant exposure to the sun and wind. He had never been to school. He had never even eaten a full meal, living only on stale bread and tea, if he was lucky enough to find some.
Mohammad al Din spent his days gambling, rummaging through trash, and living in filth and refuse.
When we first got him in a classroom, he had no idea where he was or what he was doing there. He did not know how to properly address people and yelled all the time.
The staff worked closely with him to teach him what a toilet is, how to sit in a chair, and how to use utensils.
According to his teacher, “One day, his mind just clicked.”
Now he has a strong voice and is well-spoken. He is smart, courageous, very clean, and polite. A bright star in the Omeid family.
Farshad is a sweet, generous, and soft spoken boy who is extraordinarily considerate of others.
When we first met him, he cried and pleaded for us to enroll him into our program. He told us this was his only opportunity to go to school, and that if we didn’t take him in, he would likely resort to becoming a thief or drug smuggler, which he did not want.
It was his greatest hope, he said, to finish school and succeed so that he could care for his widowed mother and siblings as a father would have.
In just six months, he excelled in his studies and reached the 4th grade, bringing great joy to us all.
The sky is the limit for this bright and motivated child.
Ahmad Naseem is one of three very special brothers in our program.
These boys had one of the worst upbringings imaginable. With their father deceased, and their mother and older sister suffering debilitating psychological issues, these three boys had no adults in their lives to guide them.
At one point, these boys were literally living with a pack of dogs.
Day after day, they would rummage through junk yards and mountains of trash teeming with bacteria, disease, and dead animals looking for food or anything they might be able to sell.
It was in these trash pits that the boys began to model their behavior after the only steady beings in their lives.
They emulated every action of the dogs: biting, eating with their faces instead of their hands, attacking food when they saw it, lifting their legs to urinate, and even barking. This behavior continued after they entered our program.
When he first came, Naseem would urinate in his clothes and defecate on himself. Like his brothers, he was illiterate and very shy. He stuttered when he spoke, making him feel deeply ashamed in front of his classmates.
In just one year, however, Naseem was learning at the correct level. He is now confident, healthy, and has developed proper hygiene and manners.
Though he remains shy, he has worked hard to overcome his speech impediment.
Ahmad Nazeer is in our program with his two brothers (see the section on Naseem, above, for their story).
Because Nazeer suffers from a mild version of Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD), he has had some trouble in class, but his teachers have worked with him closely to help him improve.
Nazeer made dramatic improvements.
In one year, he went from no formal schooling to reaching the appropriate level for his age.
Noor Agha entered our program with some limited schooling, but he was still illiterate.
He was forced to drop out of school to sell ice cream to support himself in Jallalabad.
Living on the streets, Noor Agha was exposed to drugs and violence. At 10-years-old, he began chewing tobacco, smoking hashish, and gambling.
He witnessed a suicide bombing and can recall seeing limbs blown across the street. The explosion shattered his ear drum, permanently impairing his hearing.
After entering our program, we noticed Noor Agha’s voice changing. He snored very heavily and complained about not being able to absorb his lessons. When we took him to an ear, nose, and throat specialist, it was discovered he had an adenoid disorder – the gland (in his throat) had grown over-sized and was obstructing his breathing. This restricted oxygen to his airways and brain, killing it slowly.
We were told that, if his disorder had continued, he would have died in less than one year.
Luckily, Noor Agha was immediately taken into surgery and has healed beautifully since. He now breathes comfortably and loves to sing with his new voice.
Omeid was one of only two boys who had attended school before joining our program.
Still, his literacy was limited and he was far behind.
Having been abandoned by his widowed mother after she remarried, Omeid was forced to live with his old and sickly grandfather.When his mother first re-married, he tried to live with her and her new in-laws, but his step-father’s family treated him like a slave. They acted like his presence was a disgrace to their household. His step-family forced him to do hard labor such as bringing heavy loads of water from far places. They would not feed him until the end of the day.
After extended periods of intense physical work, Omeid got very weak and his back was badly injured. He would be so exhausted by day’s end that he would wet his bed almost every night.
With much love, attention, and patience, Omeid has overcome these difficulties and has blossomed into one of our top students.
Wahid Agha is Aziz Agha’s (see above) brother. When we would take Aziz Agha on visits, Wahid would ask us to take him too. He wanted so badly to go to school and live in the “fancy house” with his brother.
The boys’ widowed and blind mother begged us to help him like we had Aziz, telling us there was no future for Wahid with her. She said she could not provide for him, and she believed that without our program he would turn out to be a pimp or a drug smuggler.
Since joining our program, Wahid has grown in leaps and bounds, although he still requires a lot of attention. His speech impediment causes him to stammer, sometimes hindering his ability to participate in class activities and communicate with others.
His teachers work closely with him to build his confidence.
When you catch him on a good day, he is one of the brightest and funniest boys in the group.
Wahid Agha always has a big smile that lights up the room. He sometimes bursts into boisterous laughter that is contagious. He is an inspiration to everyone around him, having overcome so many personal obstacles to now excel.
Farooq’s father died in an insurgent attack. His mother died giving birth to his younger sister.
Before joining us, he was living with his uncle in a mud-brick room, where his uncle taught the neighborhood children Quran classes by day and went to college at night. Farooq would be left alone in a very dangerous area.
His uncle was afraid of not being able to support him for much longer, which would have forced Farooq to work and remain out of school.
He has found new hope and opportunity through our program.
When we first met Feroz, he was one of our smallest students and was missing his two front teeth. He had lost both his parents and was living under the care of his paternal aunt, who was incredibly poor herself. She could barely provide for herself and her own children.
Jaan Agha is Noor Agha’s younger brother.
He previously worked as a baker’s apprentice and, like his brother, had never attended school. After joining our program, however, he has done great work. We are proud to have him as a part of our family.
When we met Hadayat, he had recently lost his father, a police officer, to a roadside bomb attack. His mother, a young widow and mother of six, was living with her in-laws, but they were not providing for her. When she came to enroll her son, she was still incredibly emotional about the loss of her young husband. She cried about and explained that she had no means of providing for her six young children.