About half of Afghanistan’s population of 30 million is under 15 years old. Two million of them are orphans. About half a million children have been maimed by war injuries or land mines. These most vulnerable victims of thirty years of war sometimes find homes with relatives, and sometimes in public and private shelters. Often they make their own way on the streets, prey to abuse and drug dealing.
The central government struggles to deal with this immense problem. They operate two major orphanages in Kabul, one for boys and one for girls, and another 20 or so smaller projects around the country. They can care at most for about 10,000 needy children. And even in these shelters conditions are frequently appalling: broken plumbing, lack of heat, overcrowding, understaffing.
Non-profit Afghan and international agencies have responded to these children. I photographed two of them:
The House of Flowers Orphanage, Kabul
Shuhada Orphanage, Bamiyan