Sketch by Najmia Hosseini

Stop destroying our future!

Α letter to the world from Ritsona Camp

I would never have imagined, after reaching Europe from my country, that I would be taking part in protests, in order to claim my inviolable right to education.

I had experienced the fear of losing access to education when the Taliban took over Afghanistan, attacked the schools then closed them down.

I am one of 850 children of school age who are not granted this basic right to education. Day in day out, I look for the reason behind this exclusion, trying to identify the legislation that forbids us from attending school. But, I cannot find any justification for this deprivation.

We live in a small community of 2500 people, who are the most affected by the COVID1-19 pandemic and are suffering during this second period of quarantine. Unfortunately for us, being in quarantine might be necessary for our health, but it also does threaten our right to education.

We may be excluded from attending school for one more year, this time because of Covd-19. No teacher has been brought in for us, “refugee children”, but neither has a transportation system been put in place to take us to school. How long should we stand by and watch our future being destroyed?

Be daring and imagine you are one of us, that your child is one of us. Put yourself in our shoes. At daybreak, when you wake your children to get them ready for school, we are sleeping. We are fast asleep, not because we want to waste our days, but because there is nothing constructive for us to do. While sleeping, we can, at least, dream of a classroom where we can learn and of a teacher who teaches us.

While your children wash their faces, brush their teeth and comb their hair, in front of the mirror, and start their days with a smile, we (refugee children) are staring at the destruction of our future.

Your children eat in order to get the energy needed to build their future, while we are wasting our energy in this ghetto.

When your children hear the horn of the car calling them and you use the last minutes to put their flask into their backpack, we are fighting for a bus service or a bicycle that will take us to school.

These conrasting scenes happen daily. If only our mornings were the same as your children’s!

Sorry if these words and comparisons seem harsh and unpleasant. Yet, put yourself in our shoes, and imagine your child being one of us. The discrimination we suffer is not due to the superiority of your children, but due to the arbitrary fact of where we were born.

Something is not right when even 7 year-olds have to demonstrate in support of their right to education!

Is it too much to demand our right to education?

Is it too much to ask to be treated equally, at least regarding education?

Is it right, is it fair to be criminalized and discriminated against, as the ones who are threatening your lives, while we are condemned to live in danger?

Parwana Amiri