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Since the change in government, there have been more and more restrictions on carrying out humanitarian work in Afghanistan. Even so, World Vision has remained on the ground since 2001 to provide various forms of assistance whenever possible, including health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and food, for children and families experiencing poverty, drought and food insecurity. Yet, the needs there continue to be immense, and our colleagues on the ground regularly come across stories of shocking atrocities.

Zarghona: “I sold my kidney to save my children from dying of hunger.”

30-year-old Zarghona comes from Badghis, northwestern Afghanistan. Like most of her fellow countrymen, she has been greatly affected by the serious drought and conflict in the country. Her husband had chronic health problems and was unable to provide for the family. Living on limited resources, they depended on one of his relatives to bring food to them.

Later, however, that relative suddenly forced Zarghona to sell one of her kidneys in exchange for a year’s food and accommodation. Running out of choices, Zarghona reluctantly sold her kidney for less than US$1,200.

Soon after, the man told her that nothing was left from her money. The man even turned his eyes onto Zarghona’s 4-year-old daughter, trying to convince Zarghona to sell her to pay for the family’s support for the following year. Refusing to do so, Zarghona took her children with her and moved to her father’s home in a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Herat. As her father was also struggling financially, Zarghona started earning money by tailoring and making yarn from wool. In order to save up more for food and protect her children from being sold, Zarghona would work all days, enduring the pain from her surgery wounds without painkillers. In this IDP camp, World Vision runs mobile health clinics to provide health services for the families living there. When her children get sick, Zarghona would take them to this mobile clinic, because they cannot afford medication in the city.

Zarghona’s elder daughter: “I prefer dying from hunger rather than getting married.”

After a while, when visiting her husband in Badghis, the relative asked her once again if she would agree to sell her 10-year-old daughter. When the girl heard that, she cried and said to her mother, “I prefer dying from hunger rather than getting married.” Sadly, with the collapse of Afghanistan’s economy and soaring food prices, Zarghona can no longer provide sufficient food for her children. Once again out of options, she took out a loan to buy food and pay for medical bills, even though she could not repay it. “Our creditor is asking for my little daughter. We did not give her to him, but we do not have any other alternative,” says a helpless Zarghona.

Just like Zarghona, many families across the world’s fragile contexts are leading a life full of unknowns and uncertainties, while exposed to unexpected shocks, such as escalating conflict, chronic natural disasters and instability, which they often do not have the resources and capacity to cope with. Constantly in flight, they tend to find it difficult to start a new life.

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