KABUL – Manzur Khan is one of millions of Afghani orphans living in the war-riddled country, but his resilience towards his difficult life, and his empathy towards his eight younger brothers and sisters–and mother–that he supports make him special.
Living in a makeshift camp for internally displaced persons in the capital of Afghanistan, Manzur begins his day with seeing off his four sisters to school. The 13-year-old then takes the blessings of his widowed mother in the early hours of the day to leave home for ‘work’.
Seemingly weak, relatively quiet, and shy, Manzur reaches the middle-class Mazroryan neighborhood every day before most of the shops are open in a bid to make the most of the day.
With his wheelbarrow, the little boy then remains in the service of men and women buying groceries and other stuff the whole day. With all his strength and determination, Manzur pulls the heavy wheelbarrow filled with many things that he cannot dream of buying for his sisters and mothers. In return, he earns around $3, if he is lucky, for the whole tiring day.
In an exclusive interview with AboutIslam.net, Manzur said he could not change his past, but is determined to change the future of his family.
“We had to leave our home in Laghman province ten years ago. My father died due to cancer, and now I am the only ‘man’ to look after my four sisters, three brothers, and my mother,” he said.
Despite such a young age, Manzur never seemed apprehensive in the wake of the enormous responsibility lying on his tiny shoulders.
“Whatever we are going through has been our destiny so far, and I am hopeful Insha Allah (God Willing) such difficulties will not remain forever,” the young boy added.
With the support of some local philanthropists, Manzur’s mother has now enrolled the family’s breadwinner in an evening school so that he does not lose his own future and childhood while seeking a better life for his siblings.
“I would never want my sisters and brothers to remain uneducated even if I have to sacrifice my own studies. A charity organization has now helped enroll me in a school, and I am happy, thank God,” Manzur said.
His mother had mixed feelings of pride and anguish.
“We are surviving because of him (Manzur), but he himself is a child…he is now the head of the family. Sometimes he earns 100 afghanis ($2), sometimes more and sometimes less, but thank God he is there for us,” she said.
His mother takes care of the three smaller boys at home.
In Afghanistan, life can be extremely tough for a widow with so many young children to look after where the state’s social services are seriously undermined by the raging violence and endemic corruption.
“I appeal to the government to come and help us so that my son (Manzur) does not remain under such immense pressure,” the mother added.
For young Malghalara, Manzur’s younger sister, her brother is the best brother in the world.
“I always loved to read and write, and thanks to my beloved brother I am going to school”, she told AboutIslam.