Ramadan has come upon us once again and we have lived to experience yet another blessed 30 days of fasting. We have it easy here in Australia, for the days are short and as always, when Iftar time comes, the dining table is filled with the best and most colorful foods.
Yet Muslims are fasting all over the world. They too, like us, don’t eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. However the difference is we have something to hope for, namely, food at Iftar. For many there is no such hope. Only the bitter reality of the empty stomach even when the sun goes down and the muezzin declares that it is now ok to eat.
We all know that Ramadan is a month of reflection. So let us reflect on the Afghan child, for indeed a prime purpose of fasting is remembering those who aren’t as fortunate as we are. Afghanistan is a country of two million orphans. So many of them are working from sunrise to sunset, under the burning sun of Afghan summer, all the while fasting, and doing so with such pure faith. So many children are lost and abandoned.
So let us think about the Afghan orphan. God wants us too, he reminds us of the orphans 23 times in the Qur’an.
A child is attached to his or her parents. Not only depending on them for protection and nourishment, but also emotionally attached, a bond that is the very life blood of the child. Every parent knows this. As so often happens to Afghan children, this bond breaks. They often lose their fathers and the pain and grief of this tragedy makes them not even smile for a long time. I have seen this myself with my own eyes. The stories that come from Afghanistan are true, and the pain of the children is real. Reading about them here in a newspaper article doesn’t make it any less real.
Setara, meaning ‘star’, is a 10 year old girl who lost her father 5 years ago. He was killed by the Taliban while being on soldier duty. She now lives with her mother and two smaller siblings and the family has no breadwinner. She’s in grade four and loves going to school, but since she is the eldest girl in the family, she might have to leave school and work on the streets instead. Let us think of Setara, who is by no means an exception. Let us think of Rozina, who is the mother of three girls, who makes buttons and sells them in the market, pouring all her time into it, but still she says that so often her daughters go to sleep hungry at night. She is only one woman after all.
The rugged landscape of Afghanistan is filled with forsaken children. Forgotten and abandoned. We must remember them. Many have been lifted. It is a beautiful fact that many kind hands have reached over the immense distance and have helped some of these children get a chance at life. People have become ‘sponsors’, guardians in effect. But there are many more children left. Every child is significant and represents a whole life, and so every single hand extended to help is also significant.
Let us not forget the children.
Mahboba’s Promise is currently running a Remember Afghanistan appeal during this time of end of financial year giving. To find out more how you can make a tax deductible donation visit the website (http://mahbobaspromise.org/remember-afghanistan/).