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.

When the opportunity came to send two of the children to a satellite program in Italy, for them to live with a host family and go to a world-class school, Farzana was an easy choice. She is now 16, living during her school year with her Italian mom and dad, Angela and Maurizio Iovino in Milan. She is interested in becoming a journalist. Her passion for language may one day become manifest. Already she knows four: Pashtu, Dari, English, and Italian. She returns to her beloved orphanage every summer. When she speaks of her future, it is always framed by her desire to one day help her people and her country realize the same kind of peace and equality as the orphanage has given to her. In the back of Farzana’s mind, always are the people of Yakaolang who have suffered so much. It is impossible to underestimate the impact she alone could have as a professional, worldly and respected woman, the role model she will be to scores of Afghan girls, and the desperately needed skills she could provide.