It has been one year since we watched in horror with the rest of the world as the Taliban took Afghanistan, knowing the unimaginable terror and persecution their control would guarantee, especially for women and girls. We promised that we would not allow them to be abandoned.
Since then, Together Rising has raised and deployed $972,000 to support families as they escaped, resettled in the United States, or remained in Afghanistan.
Fatima’s family is one of them.
Eight-year-old Fatima was living with her family in western Kabul. On the brink of starvation, both her immediate and extended family—30 people in total—were splitting eight small pieces of bread a day. It wasn’t even close to enough.
In addition to not having food, “Creditors were at the door of the family’s freezing mud-walled shack . . . demanding repayment for money Fatima’s father had borrowed to pay for medical treatment after being badly burned in an airstrike in their home in Helmand,” reported our partner.
Heartbreakingly, it was at this point that Fatima’s father sold his daughter into child marriage.
Soon after, our partner, Too Young to Wed, interceded to deliver emergency food to Fatima’s family, including essentials such as flour, cooking oil, sugar, and tea. They also advocated fiercely to get Fatima’s marriage annulled, freeing her to return to her family.
In the spring, Fatima started school for the first time in her life. Tears streamed down her face as she was handed her uniform and shoes.
In her own words:
“I am so happy . . . I heard I can play with my classmates and will have school books.”
With support from Too Young to Wed, Fatima’s father has bolstered his income by establishing a mobile grocery cart to earn money.
Because of you, Fatima escaped child marriage and realized her dream of starting school.
Yet Fatima isn’t the only one you’ve helped.
What follows is the story of Shura, a four-year-old girl whom you prevented from being sold into child marriage.
Living with her mother and brothers in Badghis province, Shura is the oldest girl in her family.
When her mother worked as a house cleaner, she fed the children bread from the home she cleaned. It wasn’t even close to enough. With seven children depending solely on her, Shura’s mother began scavenging, even on the coldest of days when the temperature would drop into the low thirties. Shura and her brothers waited patiently, hoping their mother would return with food. Sometimes, when she could find little scraps, the children would have bites to eat.
That’s when our partner Too Young to Wed stepped in to deliver an entire month’s worth of emergency food. They were just in time—right before Shura’s mother had planned to abandon her on the steps of a mosque, leaving her to be sold into child marriage.
Because of you, Shura was not sold into child marriage. She remains with her family where she belongs. With Too Young to Wed’s support, Shura’s mother is strengthening her income potential so she and her children never have to feel such an untenable sense of desperation and fear ever again.
Fatima and Shura aren’t the only two you’ve helped. “Our partners’ initial field survey found that one-third of all girls in households surveyed [in the Badghis, Ghor, and Herat provinces] were at immediate risk of child marriage due to food insecurity…
Thanks to Together Rising’s generous grant, child marriages have now been prevented from occurring in all of these families,” reported our partner.
Whether it be Shura, Fatima, the additional girls you prevented from being sold into child marriage, or the hundreds of additional children and families you have supported through our Afghanistan response, thank you for not allowing them to be abandoned.