From Gorata Fembo, IFRC

It is easy to forget that Madina Mohamed, a straight A student, is just 17. She exudes confidence and her voice is certain.

“Despite all the challenges of my life, I remain hopeful,” said Madina, who is named after holy city of Medina, in present-day Saudi Arabia, where the prophet, Muhammad, is buried.

“As traditional farmers, my father and uncle would leave home for months at a time in search of pastures and water for the cattle.”

In most cases, it meant leaving Madina and her other family members behind to fend for themselves.

Over time, the men were away for longer in search of grazing land. Income from farming became more meagre. And conflict increased.

Recently, the struggle became unbearable, forcing the family to migrate to Kabul and seek refuge with relatives. Now, as urban migrants, Madina’s father works as a labourer and is the sole provider for the family of ten. He only gets paid when he is able to work, and even then the wage is no more than 65 US dollars a month.

‘’The money must cover a month’s supply of food, the rent, and buy clothes. Given that it is so little and unable to take the family through the month, my mother often takes in small jobs of doing people’s laundry in the community, which helps with compensating the shortfall to meet the daily meal demands.”

‘’Even though both my parents work occasionally, the money is still not enough to pay for me and my siblings to go to school,” said Madina. ‘’Although the government school in Afghanistan is free, many people like us from impoverished backgrounds can’t attend because we cannot afford to pay transport or school supplies. I usually have to stay home to look after my younger siblings while my parents go to work.”

Although some teenagers marry, Madina has other plans. She’d like to become a doctor.

“I swear by Allah, this would never be the case for me. I hope to only get married once I have achieved my dream of attaining an education.”