text1″>About ten minutes later, we arrived at the home of Khoreb, a widow who helped us realize why so many widows and orphans live in the highest ranges of the mountain. Landlords rent one-room homes at the cheapest rates when they are at this isolating height; many of the homes are poorly constructed and have no pipes for running water. This means the occupants, most often women, must fetch water from the bottom of the hill each and every morning. A year ago, piped water began to reach some of the homes, but that only meant the landlords charged higher rent, so women had to move higher up the mountain for housing they can afford. It only made their daily water-carrying longer and more arduous.
text1″>None of the families we visited could afford coal or wood to heat their homes. Most of them scavenge for plastic and paper to burn in their small heaters. Overnight, temperatures in Kabul are ranging from the mid-teens to zero degrees.
text1″>The APVs have received many suggestions about families in need. Rather than issue a general invitation for people to come and get duvets, which would likely lead to terrific confusion, they have instead fanned out in teams of two to four, to visit families and learn about their situations. color:black;mso-themecolor:text1″> Zainab gently asked Khoreb how she manages to get food. Khoreb tells her that they don’t have enough to eat, but they try to sell as many almonds as possible and sometimes they can wash and iron clothes for their neighbors. Umalbanin met with her aunt on the road, who quickly ushered us into her home and then introduced us to several of her neighbors, all of them women with no husband or breadwinner on which they could depend.
text1″>“The main problem for our family is that the children can’t go to school,” said Fatima, who can afford to send one child to school, but only one. The others have to help support the family. color:black;mso-themecolor:text1″>. “We feel sorry for this, but they must help us find money to buy bread.”
My four young friends, bright and compassionate, who educate themselves daily about the simple, dedicated life – the yearning for, and the laborious struggle for, a better world – are moving on up these mountains to comfort and aid the desperate, the widowed women and their children, who have been abandoned there. They are discovering that the promised land of adulthood, and the corrupt and dangerous city which the U.S./NATO coalition have done so much to build, is an unequal, violent world they need to resist, step by step.