How Listening to Stories Leads to Feeding Communities in Afghanistan

Khan’s peaceful life ended the day a rocket blew his home apart.

Months later, the Afghan father was living in a tent with the surviving members of his family. He told ADRA’s team that the tragedy they now faced was hunger.

The fact is when a crisis disappears from the headlines, the needs of those affected don’t just go away. For Khan’s family in Afghanistan and others like them around the world, the needs almost always continue to escalate after the rest of the world has moved on. 

ADRA was in Khan’s community as part of the assessment stage of a project that will help feed families like his. 

During an assessment like this, ADRA spends time talking to those we seek to serve. By seeking out the voices of the most vulnerable and truly listening to experiences, we can ensure the support we provide will most effectively meet their actual needs.

This is the story Khan shared with us in his own words:

“I am Khan. 

I am 40 years old and I have my wife, three sons, and three daughters in our family. All my children are underage, the youngest child, Marwa, being 3 years of age. 

I … had a home, a happy family, normal and comfortable life. I was busy in farming and had a steady income to meet my family’s day-to-day needs.

It was mid-summer of 2021 when intense fighting started … which changed the whole dynamics of living conditions for me and my family. 

Everything changed for us within a matter of hours. 

All our normal life activities disrupted, my livelihood got destroyed, and all my happiness changed to sadness. The conflict’s dark shadows darkened my life.

I still remember the day when the fight started. It was a nice, bright sunny day, I was working in my farming fields in our village. I went running to my house to see if my children and wife are fine and to find a safe space for them. 

Just when I reached home, a rocket hit our house. 

I just heard the explosion and everything was dusty and smoky in my house. After I fell on the ground for a while, I didn’t understand what has just happened. When I became conscious, I saw a destroyed home, which I had built with years of hard work. 

I call upon my family members to ensure they are alive, but I was shocked to find out that one of my sons lost his life as a result of the explosion. 

He was 12 years old. 

That was the most devastating day of my life, seeing my own child’s death. I cannot and will not forget that incident, which has affected me mentally to this day.

In order to save our life, we had no other option but to leave everything behind and flee from the area. Immediately after that incident, in the middle of the active conflict, I gathered my family and pack very little clothes and left for Kabul. 

Since I arrived in Kabul, I am living in a tent. I and my little children are forced to collect garbage and sometimes we are able to sell it for meager amount… I am unable to find any kind of work as there are no jobs, not even labor jobs. 

To support my family, I have no other option but to rely on garbage collection from the streets. I cannot even send my children to school because no money. 

Living in a tent out in winter is not a good experience, and some days my children have to sleep without food. 

My children have become weak physically and if my situation remains same, they will be soon be emaciated and may become malnourished, and it’s just a matter of time that I may witness losing my other children. 

No one yet has come to ask about us or help us. I don’t have any assets to sell to find food for my family.”

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About ADRA

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is the international humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church serving in 118 countries. Its work empowers communities and changes lives around the globe by providing sustainable community development and disaster relief. ADRA’s purpose is to serve humanity so all may live as God intended.

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