MONEY FOR CENTER
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[ October 27th 2001 ]
refugees are forced to scavenge for a few pennies
to help them survive. Covered with flies, Abdul
picks his way barefoot through a stinking pile
of rubbish on a street corner. He has been working
since dawn and his hands and clothes are black
with dirt. His left foot is bleeding from a splinter
ago, the seven-year-old's family fled the US bombing
of Afghanistan. Within days, he had joined the
underclass of Afghan refugee children sent out
to rummage through the rubbish tips of Quetta
for food and scraps.
some only four, are on every street corner. They
provide the city with an efficient rubbish separation
service, depositing bottles, plastic containers
and scrap metal at recycling depots, but earn
less than 15p a day to take to their families
in the refugee settlements on the outskirts of
gangs are accepted in the city. Most come from
families who are not officially registered as
refugees and are not eligible to go to state schools.
is very much an invisible problem in Quetta, no-one
is interested," said Zaman Khan, a volunteer social
worker who runs the only facility in the city
aimed at caring for the street rubbish workers.
"These boys are neglected and vulnerable and forced
to do this.
boys are illiterate and do not understand basic
hygiene. We require them to wash their hands and
faces when they come here, and for many of them
it is the only time they will wash. A lot become
involved in drugs, and we educate them about the
dangers of heroin and other narcotics, but mostly
we provide them with somewhere where they can
provides a basic education to the boys and has
188 children registered who all work in the rubbish
tips around Quetta. In the past two weeks, another
15 boys have been added to the register, all from
families who have arrived in Quetta after fleeing
opened a year ago and relies solely on foreign
visited by Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who
played Lara Croft, a month before the 11 September
attacks. She pledged to raise money to train the
children in skills like carpet-weaving so they
no longer have to pick rubbish.
has not yet been reached by the Oxfam Centre.
He has been picking rubbish for the past few days
and was shown how the system worked by older boys.
Asked how long he thinks he will have to carry
on this work, he shrugs: "It is a way to make
money . I will do it as long as I have to."