My name is Mina Sharif. I’m launching this campaign with a sincere request for help and an extraordinary story that I feel has to be shared. It’s the story of Fawad Mohammadi, a young man who grew up fatherless on the streets of Kabul. I met Fawad in 2006 when I first moved to Afghanistan. Back then—at the age of eight—he was one of hundreds of children selling maps and trinkets on the streets of Kabul to support his family. In his college application essay, Fawad explains why he worked at such a young age:
“Everyone has a sad story when they recall it, then they become sad. My saddest story is the night when my father died. He died because we couldn’t afford to buy him medicine or take him out of country for treatment … Being born in a family where everyone is illiterate and everyone tries to work for survival, is not easy. I had to work before going to school.”
Fawad wasn’t alone. City streets in Afghanistan are filled with children who work to keep their families alive. Many of them don’t survive to adulthood, and for those who do, the prospects are often bleak. Having spent their childhood working, many spend the rest of their lives illiterate and deeply in debt. Life for Afghanistan’s working class is brutally challenging, but somehow, Fawad managed to escape this fate.
“It was a great benefit at the Chicken Street that I met so many people from around the world … I learned there how to speak English, a little French, Russian, Turkish and many other languages. Every upcoming week I had to learn new tactics to sell my maps and earn money to keep my family out of starving.”
Fawad used his extraordinary charm and intelligence to befriend foreign journalists, NGO workers and filmmakers. He inspired a novel (Andrea Busfield’s Born Under a Million Shadows) and, finally, at the age of 12, starred in a short, indie film, Buzkashi Boys, that took him to the 2013 Oscars.
“When I heard that the film was nominated for the Oscars in 2013 and that I would go to USA, I was so happy that I could present my country in a good way. When I became famous, I used the fame to encourage Afghan boys, especially street kids, to follow their dreams. Also, show the world that the youngest Afghans have talents, but unfortunately their talents with themselves are buried in the soil.”
I was a production manager on Buzkashi Boys, and I watched my young friend Fawad blossom into an accomplished actor. Two years later, I accompanied him to the Oscars and watched him encounter his first flight, the red carpet and America. It was incredible to stand beside him as he shared his story with the world. There was a lot of attention on him and he handled the questions with grace and much pride for his home country and his humble roots. But that attention was short lived and we were soon back in Afghanistan. This meant Fawad was back in charge of supporting his family. I worried for his future.
Last year, despite the odds, Fawad was accepted into Oberlin College in Ohio, USA. He earned a scholarship that covers his tuition but he needs money to survive and succeed as a student. Books, clothing, computer and phone, academic fees—all the necessities of student life.
“If I was nominated for Oscar at age 13, I believe I can win one by the age of 26. I need a chance to express myself and tell my stories without fearing for my life, and prove that dreams do come true if one is persistent against all the storms.”
As an Afghan, the dire situation in my homeland pains me to my core, but determined future leaders like Fawad give me hope. He has done his part to get this far, but now he needs our support to succeed.
You can watch Fawad in Buzkashi Boys by clicking on this LINK
- Naqeeb Hashimi
- Anonim Anonim
- Justine Rukeba
Fundraising team: Afghan Film Project (6)
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