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The Kids of Khewa

<div>Girls in Khewa study before a blackboard. They are hoping for a roofed building before winter. (Photo: Cassandra Nelson)</div>
Girls in Khewa study before a blackboard. They are hoping for a roofed building before winter. (Photo: Cassandra Nelson)

It is 8:00 in the morning and Bibi, a 9-year-old Afghan girl, has been up and working for the past several hours. She is bringing water from the village well to her home.

"My day starts at sunrise. It is best to start work early when it is still cool," says Bibi. "In the afternoon it will be too hot to work in the sun."

Bibi is one of about 18,000 children living in the Khewa district in eastern Afghanistan. Life here is hard for children. Many families have had to leave their homes and live as refugees to escape the last 20 years of war. Din Mohammad, who is 12 years old, spent most of his life in refugee camps, waiting for it to become safe to return home.

"I don't remember living here—we left when I was 3 to escape the fighting and the Taliban," said Din Mohammad after returning to Khewa with his family. "I spent the last nine years living in camps near Peshawar, Pakistan. I guess I am home now, but it doesn't feel like it."

Din Mohammad was fortunate. Many families did not have the money to leave. The children who remained in Afghanistan had a very difficult life under the Taliban. Girls were not allowed to go school, boys could only attend religious schools, and no one could listen to music.

Since the war on terror and the fall of the Taliban, life is slowly improving in Afghanistan. Twelve-year-old Storai is collecting cow dung from the pastures. This is one of her many chores for the day. Later she will stick it on the walls of her home to dry. It will be burned as fuel for the cooking fires.

"I have a lot of work to do," says Storai "I must help my family. But now that the Taliban is gone I am able to do more."

Although most of the schools were damaged in the past two decades of fighting, many boys, and now girls like Storai, are going to school. "We have classes outside and sit on the ground," says Storai, who hopes to one day be a doctor. "I hope they rebuild our school soon, so we can sit inside before the winter comes and it is too cold."

For children in Afghanistan, most of the day is spent doing chores or attending school. But in the heat of the afternoon, there is time for fun. The children of the village gather around the water canals and play in the refreshing cold water.

In the evening, the children return home to help prepare the family dinner. Most Afghan homes have joint-family living arrangements, in which several related families all live together. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews all share their work, their play, and their meals. Bedtime is at sunset.

For Bibi, that's the best part of the day. "Soon my father will bring the radio and we all will come to listen to the BBC [Pashto-language version] and then Indian music, " says Bibi, after finishing her chores.

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    by Terri Willis


    •     Highly visual introduction to world geography
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    •     "Fast Facts" appendix highlights key information from the text
    •     "To Find Out More" listings encourage independent research
    •     Index makes navigating subject matter easy


      6/1/06 Booklist
      Originally published in 1986, this newly revised title in the Enchantment of the World series discusses the huge changes in South Africa, from apartheid to the present transformation. In 1980, Blauer and LaurČ co-authored the breakthrough photo-essay South Africa: Coming of Age under Apartheid, so it's no surprise that they root their candid commentary on the present scene in an accurate, in-depth history. Along with discussing the role of Nelson Mandela and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the authors consider religion, sports, literature, music, and much more, making clear that despite the changeover, huge economic inequalities still exist, as do problems such as AIDS, unemployment, and crime. Well-chosen, beautifully reproduced full-color photographs, clear maps, a time line, and "fast facts" complete the handsomely designed, readable package... For more on South Africa, pull out Rob Bowden's The Changing Face of South Africa (2002) and Benjamin Pogrund's Nelson Mandela (2004). Other revised series entries include Iraq and Taiwan.


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    Guided Reading Set: Level Z – Battle Heroes, Voices from Afghanistan

    Guided Reading Set: Level Z – Battle Heroes, Voices from Afghanistan

    by Allan Zullo

    Our Guided Reading 6-Book Sets help you tailor your instruction to meet individual and small-group interests and needs! Select from a variety of best-selling titles to enhance your Guided Reading Program.

    Title Description:
    Ten true stories of real-life battle heroes in Afghanistan!
    Medic Mark DeCorte jumps from a chopper on a nighttime rescue mission. Can he save the life of a badly wounded soldier -- and escape from a deadly enemy? In a remote Afghan village, Marine Lieutenant Stephen Boada picks up a chilling Taliban message on his radio scanner. Can the outnumbered Marines fight their way out?
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