When Aziz Agha was enrolled in our program at the Amin Institute, the staff would say he is barely "Civilized." Although this may sound brutal, it was true in nearly every sense of the word. Before we brought him into our program Aziz Agha was known to wander the streets naked and was abusive to his younger sister and out of his mother's control.
Under our care he learned respect for elders and siblings, good manners, how to use eating utensils, use the bath- room and attend school. Having never attended a day of school in his life, Aziz Agha was not only illiterate but beyond the inability to read he did not even know how to identify much less write the letters of the alphabet or numbers. His illiteracy was so severe and his upbringing so deprived that had never even held a pencil or pen in his life- something unimaginable to us, but quite common amongst the children in our program. His first days in class were particularly challenging as he would try so hard to hold the pencil he would cry from frustration. Shortly thereafter the teachers discovered that he and several others had never held a pencil or written anything ever before. The teachers had to start truly from scratch and before they could even teach the alphabet they had to teach the boys to hold pencils and sit properly in chairs and desks as many never had furniture or chairs in their homes; this was all an entirely new experience.
Today Aziz Agha has excelled to the third grade and has surpassed his elder brother in his studies, a matter of great pride and happi- ness for Aziz Agha himself. Most recently, Aziz Agha woke in the middle of the night with severe and crippling stomach pains and was promptly rushed to the emergency room, where we were told he was suffering from appendicitis. He was immediately operated on and kept medicated in the hospital for observation. We are very happy to report he is up and running and healthy as ever. His surgery including medicine and follow up check up's cost less than $150, but had he not been under our care, would have truly been a matter of life and death. Thankfully Aziz Agha received the emergency care he needed and continues to make progress daily, thanks to the generosity of the Omeid family of support- ers.
Farshad is one of three boys to have joined our program mid-year, although he has been enrolled in our program for only 6 months he has excelled in his studies and brought great joy to our home. Farshad is an incredibly sweet, generous and soft spoken boy who is extraordinarily considerate of others. Having attended some limited schooling he was very eager to join our program and move ahead in his education. When we interviewed him for the program he was so moved by emotion he cried as he plead for us to enroll him. He told us that this was his only opportunity to go to school and if we didn't take him he would likely resort to becoming a thief or drug smuggler and he didn't want this. It was his greatest hope he said, to finish school and succeed so that he may care for his widowed mother and siblings as a father would have. Farshad has in 6 months reached the fourth grade and truly the sky is the limit for this bright and motivated child.
Farzad like many of the other students had never attended a day of school in his life. He was severely illiterate and unable to hold or use a pencil, use proper eating utensils or the restroom. In his first days in class he would focus extremely hard on the paper so much so, that his eyes would water and he would drop the pencil, unable to write. It had become such a problem that the teachers thought he had vision problems and could not see the paper in order to write, but soon they discovered that he just didn't know how to use a pencil, like many of the other boys he had never been trained on basic life skills. Again, our teachers and staff started from scratch with him, holding his hand and guiding it with the pencil until he became familiar with the instrument. In addition to these obstacles in learning, Farzad had a terrible skin condition that caused him much pain and discomfort which has since been treated. Most alarming however, were his problems with bed wetting, at certain points it was so bad that he would wet his bed nearly every night. Doctors felt that he had suffered a trauma early on in life and this was a result of his insecurities developed during the most crucial stages of early childhood development. Since then, the live in staff has worked night and day to essentially toilet train this 9 year old boy, and we are so proud to report he is doing exceptionally well and in a short time has reached a 4th grade level and is growing stronger every day.
Mohammad al Din is one of three boys to have entered our program mid-year and in 6 short months has grown in leaps and bounds. He is the brother of our first student Qutbuddin, whose parents were both deceased, leaving them to fend for them- selves or from time to time stay with their very old and sickly grandmother. When he first entered our home he was in a dire state. His hair was muddy, matted, full of fleas and looked as if it had never been washed once in his life. His skin was dry, scaly, cracked and burned from constant exposure to the terrain and harsh sun and winds. Prior to joining our group he had never entered a school or ever eaten a full meal, much less three meals in a day...he lived on stale bread and tea if he could be lucky enough to find some. Mohammad al Din spent all of his days out on the street gambling, rummaging through trash to gather paper for cooking and lived in filth and refuse. In the classroom he had no idea where he was or what he was doing there and would look to his brother for explanation and would yell, "eyyy, " as he did not know how to properly address people. The staff worked closely with him daily to teach him slowly what a toilet is, how to sit, what utensils are and how they should be used and according to his teacher Ustad Fareba, "One day his mind just clicked," and is now ahead of his brother who has studied for one year while he has only been here 6 months. His teachers love to rave about him, saying, "He has a very good voice and is clearly spoken, he would benefit from musical training to develop his voice, now he is smart, courageous, very clean and polite."Mohammad al Din has made it to the 3rd grade in just 6 months and is a bright star in our home.
Ahmad Naseem is one of three very special brothers in our program. Naseem, Naseer and Nazeer have had one of the worst upbringings humanly imagin- able. With their father deceased and their mother and older sister suffering debilitating psychological issues these three boys had no adults in their lives to guide them and were literally raised by dogs. Day after day these three brothers would rummage through junk yards and mountains of trash teeming with bacteria, disease and dead animals looking for food or anything they might have been able to sell. It was in these trash pits that each boy adopted a stray dog of his own and began modeling their behavior after the only steady being in their lives. The boys emulated every action of these dogs, biting, eating with their faces not using their hands, attacking food when they saw it and lifting their legs to urinate and even barking from time to time. Naseem was the least affected of the three brothers two of which suffer from Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD). Naseem upon entering our program still emulated his dog, not knowing how to use his hands to eat or even how to use a toilet; he not only urinated in his clothes but also defecated on himself. Naseem like his brothers was illiterate and very shy; when he spoke he would stutter and feel deeply ashamed in front of the class. In just one year he has made it to the third grade. He is more confident, healthy and learned proper hygiene and manners and lately has begun to overcome his speech impediment but does remain slightly shy. Our staff is working hard to boost his courage and address any insecurities he may still have in the classroom.
Ahmad Nazeer is one of three very special brothers in our program. Nazeer, Naseem and Naseer have had one of the worst upbringings humanly imaginable. With their father deceased and their mother and older sister suffering debilitating psychological issues these three boys had no adults in their lives to guide them and were literally raised by dogs. Day after day these three brothers would rummage through junk yards and mountains of trash teeming with bacteria, disease and dead animals looking for food or anything they might have been able to sell. It was in these trash pits that each boy adopted a stray dog of his own and began modeling their behavior after the only steady being in their lives. The boys emulated every action of these dogs, biting, eating with their faces not using their hands, attacking food when they saw it and lifting their legs to urinate and even barking from time to time. Like his brothers the staff had to start from the very beginning with Nazeer teaching him how to use proper hygiene to overcome his issues with wetting himself, how to use proper etiquette when eating, how to speak and address adults and teachers, how to hold a pencil and of course to read and write as he had never attended a day of school in his life. Because Nazeer suffers from a mild version of Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD) an illness that is comparable to Autism or Asperger's Syndrome he has had some trouble in the classroom and the teachers have worked closely with him to overcome this learning disability. Lately Nazeer has made dramatic improvements as the staff and teachers have learned how to address his special needs. In one year Nazeer has gone from having no formal schooling to a fourth grade level and is improving on a daily basis.
Ahmad Naseer is one of three very special brothers in our program. Naseer, Naseem and Nazeer have had one of the worst upbringings humanly imaginable. With their father deceased and their mother and older sister suffering debilitating psychological issues these three boys had no adults in their lives to guide them and were literally raised by dogs. Day after day these three brothers would rummage through junk yards and mountains of trash teeming with bacteria, disease and dead animals looking for food or anything they might have been able to sell. It was in these trash pits that each boy adopted a stray dog of his own and began modeling their behavior after the only steady being in their lives. The boys emulated every action of these dogs, biting, eating with their faces not using their hands, attacking food when they saw it and lifting their legs to urinate and even barking from time to time. Of the three brothers Naseer has the most aggressive case of Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD), an illness that is comparable to Autism of Asperger's Syndrome. Naseer entered our program a very violent and aggressive child, he had severe learning disabilities, difficulties with verbal and non-verbal communication, tantrums and anxiety. His violent behavior was of so much concern we were nearly forced to expel him from our program for the safety of the other students in the house.
There were several occasions that he attacked other children and would sabotage them inside the house. He was disruptive, unruly and was constantly urinating and defecating in his clothes and in his bed. Naseer was taken to several specialists and child psychologists who prescribed him medication to help control his tenden- cies. Aside from the medication, the staff took steps towards addressing his obstacles in the class by making him the classroom "police," this boosted his ego and motivated him to participate in class lessons. With this treatment Naseer began to improve dramatically and even learned his ABC's in just one hour! He has overcome immense obstacles and has lately become one of our most promising students, having reached the third grade in just one year despite his learning disabilities. Naseer continues to show great promise and is just but one sobering example of the issues that Afghan orphans face. Although his illness was not life threaten- ing, had it gone undiagnosed it no doubt would have escalated to the point of dysfunction endangering his life and those around him, but thanks to the love and efforts of our staff and supporters like yourself Naseer has an entirely new lease on life and his future is truly bright.
Noor Agha entered our program with very limited schooling, but was still at an illiterate stage as he was forced to drop out of school to sell ice cream to support himself in Jallalabad. Living on the streets Noor Agha was exposed to drugs and violence, before the age of ten years old he had already chewed tobacco, smoked hashish, become a gambler and witnessed a suicide bombing, of which he recalls seeing limbs blown across the street. A result of this explosion was a shattered ear drum, which until this day impairs his hearing. In the past few months we noticed Noor Agha's voice changing, he snored very heavily and complained of not being able to absorb his lessons, and he said that he would forget things quickly. Upon taking him to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist it was discovered that he had an Adenoid Disorder. Adenoid glands had grown oversized in his throat obstructing his breathing and nasal passageways, while at rest the obstruction of this airway restricts oxygen supplies to the brain killing the brain slowly. The specialists told us that if his disorder continued that he would die in one year's time. Immediately, Noor Agha was taken into surgery and has healed beauti- fully since. He now lives and breathes comfortably, loves to sing with his new voice and is the top ranking student in his fourth grade class.
With the exception of Noor Agha, Omeid was the only other boy who had attended school prior to entering our program; still his literacy was limited and had not passed the first grade. Having been abandoned by his widowed mother after she remarried, Omeid was forced to live with his old and sickly Grandfather. When his mother first re-married he tried to live with her and her new in-laws, but his step-fathers family treated him as a slave as he was the result of a previous marriage and another man, they felt his presence was a disgrace to their household. His step family would force him to do very hard labor; bringing large, heavy loads of water from very far away and would not feed him at the end of the day. After extended periods of hard labor Omeid became very weak and his back was badly injured and he would be so exhausted at the end of the day that he would wet his bed almost every night. Once in our care, we took him to the doctor for his chronic bed wetting and the doctor said the hard labor made him weak so he cannot hold himself when he has to go. With much love, attention, patience and hard work our live in care takers have helped Omeid overcome his weaknesses and is rapidly growing into a fine mature young man and is amongst our top students. Omeid's mother often weeps when she visits from how happy she is. She tells us that she could have never given him such a life and she would rather have him live away from her then for her new husbands family to use and abuse him as a slave. She always asks us to send her deep gratitude to all of our supporters in the US, and from Omeid's mother, we thank you.
Qutbuddin is one of our most memorable students. He was the very first child we admitted to our program at the Amin institute and holds a very special place in all of our hearts. When we first met him he had lost both parents to disease, worked on the streets either selling plastics or working as a sheep herder or shop assistant. Qutbuddin was emaciated, under constant physical abuse from his older brother, looked sickly with rotting teeth and a horrible skin condition from constant sun and wind exposure and was a regular cigarette and hashish smoker; and we would later find out that he was also suffering from Tuberculosis and could barely run his breathing was so bad. His first days in our home were a complete shock for him. He could not believe that he was lucky enough to get picked up off the streets and live in what was in his opinion, the lap of luxury. For the first several days he kept asking me, "Is this really my home? Am I going to live here? Will you send me back to work on the streets? I would constantly reassure him that we would never let him go back on the streets, and it took some time but now he has truly become the King of our little castle. We are proud to report that Qutbuddin's TB is completely under control, he does not smoke, his teeth and skin have both been treated and he has gained more than ten pounds. Most importantly he has gained a sense of security and belonging and takes great pride in the fact that he has gone from a state of complete illiteracy to the top ranking position of his third grade class.
Wahid Agha is one of three students who was admitted to our program mid-year and is the brother of Aziz Agha. When we would take Aziz Agha on home visits Wahid would beg us to take him too, he wanted so badly to go to school and live in the "fancy" house with his brother. The boys' widowed and blind mother would beg us to "civilize" him like Aziz. She told us there was no future for him with her and she could not provide for him and soon enough he would be pimp or smuggler out on the street. Already, Wahid like Aziz was abusing his sister and could not be brought under control by their disabled mother. In the short time that he has been in our program Wahid has grown in leaps and bounds but still requires a great deal of attention. He has a speech impediment that causes him to stammer which keeps him from participating in class or communicating with others. The teachers are working closely with him to overcome his stammer and build his confidence so that he can begin to speak clearly. When you catch him on a brave day he is one of the brightest and funniest boys in the group. He always has a great big smile that lights up the room and sometimes bursts into uncontrollable laughter that is truly contagious. He is a special boy that requires special attention, and with the support of the Omeid family, we are certain that he will overcome all obstacles and excel through school and through life.
When Zamir joined our family he was a wild child. He had already become accustomed to theft, street fights and gambling. His father who was an opium addict disappeared when Zamir was an infant and he is now presumed dead. Zamir was raised by his mother and mostly by the streets, as is the case with most widows, she could not provide enough for her family and so her young children were forced to work from a very young age. Zamir's first memories as a child are of working in machine shops and hard labor, because he had to provide form himself, his siblings and his mother; he did not have the luxury of attend-
ing school. He was a very hardened, angry and rough child when we bought him in. He was constantly fighting with other kids, stealing from them and was nearly expelled from our program. When Zamir was faced with the harsh reality of moving back out on to the streets he begged for a second chance and by his own accord drew up a contract promising he would improve and signed it himself. Today he is the most trusted student in our school that all the younger kids look up to; he has essentially become an assistant to both the teachers and our program manager who even trusts him with office and supply cabinet keys. Placing this level of trust and responsibil- ity on Zamir made a great impact on him, and he now takes his privileges in the house very seriously. In just one year Zamir has gone from an illiterate wild, thieving, angry child to a bright, positive and motivated fourth grader.
Farooq, is an orphan whose father died in an insurgent attack and mother died giving birth to his younger sister. He was currently living with his uncle in a mud brick room where his uncle taught neighborhood kids Quran classes during the day and went to college at night and Farooq would be left alone in a very dangerous area. His uncle feared that he could only support him for so much longer and would have to force him to work and remain out of school.
Feroz, is one of our smallest new students, he is missing his two front teeth and looks very mischievous. His living situation is similar to that of Farooq, having lost both of his parents, he was living under the care of his paternal aunt who was incredibly poor herself and could barely feed herself or her own children.
Omid and Abed are two brothers who are a special case. These two brothers have both parents however, both their mother and father have debilitating mental illness' that have left them unable to provide for their boys. These two brothers used to work all day under the burning sun calling taxis in a very dangerous and filthy bazaar area that is often targeted for suicide bombings. Due to their parent's inability to provide for them, Omid and Abed have been forced to work for as long as they can remember and have never attended a day of school in their lives. Although they may not technically be orphans, they do live the same as an orphan would, and we found their case to be deserving of special consideration.
Jaan Agha is the younger brother of one of our existing students Noor Agha who came from the Jallalabad area. Jaan Agha was working as an apprentice for a baker and never attended school like his elder brother. Noor Agha now is first in his class, and we have every hope that young Jaan Agha will follow suit.
Finally our last student was a special case. Hadayat had recently lost his father, a police officer, to a road side bomb attack. His mother a young widow and mother of six was still living with her in-laws, but was not being provided for by them. When she came to enroll her son, she was still incredibly emotional about the loss of her young husband. She cried about her misfortune and explained to me that she had no means of providing for her 6 young children