In 2017, Oxfam calculated that the world’s eight richest individuals had as much wealth as the poorest half of the world. We need only simple math to see through the financial subterfuge adults put on like power dressing.
On the 11th of April 2018, David Daniel Oldfield, Asia Development Bank Principal Economist for Central and West Asia, said this of Afghanistan’s economy, “… your economy is growing too slowly, if you have two percent growth that you had in some years, and your population growth is three percent or higher you cannot keep people out of poverty.”
Afghan children who help carry the brunt of this poverty understand the complicity of all in this GDP charade, not through numbers, but through daily labour and universal conscience.
An April 2018 report by Afghanistan Human Rights Commission shows that of the 1.2 million child laborers in the country, 16 percent of them are subjected to some form of abuse, of which 43 percent is physical abuse.
In this context, it is revolutionary education and understanding at the Borderfree Street Kids School in Kabul that has enabled Habib to testify towards the end of a video, “Before this school, I had no particular hope in life. My hope was in money. I wanted to be the richest man in the world. I’m gradually losing the desire for money. As I understood nonviolence and what it means, my interest in money diminished.”
The revolution we need to save ourselves is to understand the fake-ness not only of news today, but the fake-ness and fable of today’s monetary systems. The money we have manufactured is killing our own kind, and Mother Earth as well.
Habib’s difficult story is not atypical. After Habib’s father was killed in a suicide bomb attack 7 years ago, Habib started working in the streets to help make ends meet. For a miniscule fee, he had a weighing scale that showed passing pedestrians how obese or undernourished they were. He has gone through severe personal trauma in the years since, including ‘escape’ from extremists who tried to recruit him into their militant ranks. Now, daily, through relationships among the Afghan Peace Volunteers, Habib is recovering gradually – grieving, doubting, imagining, feeling and daring to live again, towards a liberated purpose and meaning.
Clearly, the corrupt, corporate and militarized economic system is not designed to offer anyone a fair chance to live decently. Instead, it promotes business-as-usual, making people like Habib fight for ‘capitalistic scraps’. While the US has spent $32 million dollars an hour since 2001 to push their wars around the world, including in Afghanistan, the everyday economic experience of ordinary Afghans is one of slog and slavery.
Zakia, a new volunteer teacher for the street kids, and second-year sociology undergraduate at Kabul University, recounted her almost unbelievable extended family tragedy, “Over the past five years, my extended family of close and distant relatives have lost 46 young members of their families in this worsening war. They were soldiers and policemen. None of them wanted to risk being killed, but there are simply no other jobs. My mother has so much grief that she’s always ill.”
Advocacy and protest aren’t enough.
In such pilfering times, environmental, economic justice and peace groups need to pool their energies together, and give Habib, Afghan youth and billions of impoverished people around the world alternative avenues for education and work.
This article has been excerpted from: ‘Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children’.