Case study: the perils of the winter season
Sultan Mohamed is from Labeshir village in the Karashihi area of Faryab province. His village was home to around 200 to 300 families. In Labeshir, he worked as a wheat farmer to support his family, where he was paid a percentage of the harvest, but a steady income was not always guaranteed as the area was flood prone.
He fled his home with his family about six months ago due to fighting in his village. “We escaped at night and we just took a blanket,” he said. They found refuge in Nahr-e-Shahi village, set in barren land about 20 kilometers away from Mazar-e-Sharif city. Hundreds of families fled from conflict-affected areas of Faryab and Balkh and settled in IDP sites around the city. As the conflict is still ongoing, they have not been able to return home.
While they are now safe, shelter is the primary concern for Sultan, his wife and their five children. “We cannot go back. Just a few day ago, we hear that two civilians were killed and two others injured,” he said. Some people remain but most have fled to Balkh, Jowzjan or even Hirat. “Those who can walk or run away have gone,” he added. Sultan went to Iran to work for several months, but he was captured by the authorities and returned back to Afghanistan. Sultan said that he was lucky to have found a job cleaning the river, as part of a UN cash for work project.
However, he is worried about surviving the winter. “It gets very cold and the children cannot go outside.” To prepare for the upcoming winter, like many of the 1,200 families in the area, Sultan has borrowed money to buy a small plot of land and is building a house with assistance from an NGO through a project funded by the Afghanistan Humanitarinan Fund. The family is currently living in a tiny room without windows while he is constructing his new house. With a cash grant to upgrade shelter for winter, he is able to buy materials for the construction of his house such as windows, roofing materials and doors.
As for other priorities, Sultan said that both his daughters are going to school. His eldest, nine year old Asma, helps around the house, but she is also attending grade three classes. “Now we understand that an illiterate person is limited, so everyone needs to be literate to make something of their life. I have seen many changes over the years, now we must consider both boys and girls,” he said.
“I am happy with this support, but new displaced people keep arriving and they will need help too,” he added.