Ali and his younger brother, Ahmad, were ten and seven when their father began to show signs of dementia. Their lives had always been miserably poor. They lived in Farah Province, close to Iran and in the middle of a drug trade route. Their father took to drugs, and then to beating his wife Perri. When finally he disappeared completely, the boys and their mother found themselves in a tremendously difficult position.

Khala Perri couldn’t even re-marry, and had no way to take care of her boys or provide even basic needs. Ali took to working in the streets, pulling in some bread here, a few Afghanis there. Perri began to experience blackouts, and considered suicide, while Ali watched other boys go off to war with the Taliban, boys who received a tempting regular salary of a hundred dollars a month.

Desperate to keep her son out of the war, Khala Perri and Ali joined the first AFCECO orphanage in Kabul. Perri and her eldest worked hard for their keep, and were integral in holding that first fledgling orphanage together. Ali, at 12, had had no schooling, but he soon proved he was a sharp young man, jumping immediately from grade one to two. Khala Perri stood her ground as head house mother of the orphanage. A year later and Ali jumped yet another class to grade nine. He attained 3rd position, and is also the star pupil in a medical training class given by a doctor in AFCECO’s clinic. He volunteered to take full charge of a huge public exhibition produced by AFCECO, and has been trusted and charged with possession of the key to the clinic. Ali has also joined an intensive English class at the New Learning Center, and has begun to realize that his future is indeed bright. Ali has emerged as a positive force in his family. It is easy to imagine where he could have ended up. The Taliban almost certainly would have recruited him. Khala Perri no longer falls into her black spells, and she looks forward to the day when her sons succeed, go to university and become respected professionals.

Khala is a term of endearment given to older women.

Khala Perri and Ali
Ali in Clinic

Child Spotlight: Farzana


Farzana was five when Taliban forces raided Yakaolang, a district in Bamyan province that is home to the Hazara minority. It was January of 2001. The marauders of Yakaolang were following the decree of their spiritual leader, Mullah Omar, who had ordered them to “Behead all men whose age is greater than 12, let it be a warning lesson for the Sadat and Hazara survivors of the Yakaolang.” And they did with mighty cruelty, beheading over 300 men on one day, including Farzana’s father and many of her relatives.

AFCECO could only take 60 children of the survivors to the orphanages in Pakistan. Farzana and her sisters were the luckiest on that golden wagon. A small kid who had been badly affected by that tragedy soon emerged as a fi rebrand student in Watan Orphanage, and buried all those miseries and hardships with a strong commitment to work hard for a peaceful Afghanistan. This little master of English began to translate the letters that came from sponsors to children and helped the children write back to their sponsors.

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