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What drives a young Afghan for success in a fragile country?

18 September 2020
Dr. Humaira, responses the callers during her work at the YHL Centre - ©UNFPA Afghanistan/Zaeem Abdul Rahman
Dr. Humaira, responses the callers during her work at the YHL Centre - ©UNFPA Afghanistan/Zaeem Abdul Rahman

There are many motivations that can drive a person to enter the humanitarian field. In the case of Dr. Humaira, her desire to serve youth and adolescents resulted in her providing advice and consultations to the young callers via the Youth Health Line (YHL); toll free 120 in Afghanistan.

It’s been almost five years since Dr. Humaira began her work with the YHL. However, her commitment and dedication has not wavered since she took up this calling, and the hope and encouragement she provides to young callers has increased day by day. “I stay for long hours, hearing from youth and adolescents from different parts of Afghanistan, but at the end of the day, I’m happy that I guided many of the callers and assisted them in what they’re seeking.”

It’s not an easy work to respond the callers and ensure everyone is happy. Some of the calls end with aggressive and abusive language being used. “The poverty and over four decades of conflict in Afghanistan have negatively impacted on the behavior of many people. They face various psychosocial problems,” Dr. Humaira explained. “That’s why you have to expect to not hear polite language all the time.” However, in order to provide the help unique to Dr. Humaira’s work, this is the cost of the work she chooses to do daily.

It’s More than just Opportunity—it’s a Need for Behavioral Change

A 14-year adolescent girl called the YHL from Panjwayee District of Kandahar province. “The girl told me that she’s interested in enrolling for school, but the family—particularly her mother—is not allowing her,” said Dr. Humaira. “I talked with the girl in detail and took some notes and information about her family life and educational facilities in their area. After our conversation, I encouraged her to connect me with her mother through this [YHL] hotline.”

The next day, the YHL Centre received the call from Kandahar province. The call came from the same girl, and she was connected to the Dr. Humaira’s operating line. The girl said that she had spoken with her mother and encouraged her to speak directly with Dr. Humaira. Her mother had agreed.

“I was able to have an in-depth discussion with her mother. I explained to her the importance of education for women. I even encouraged the mother to persuade all of her family members to enroll in an educational programme for learning, At first, she was not happy. However, after a lengthy conversation during which I was able to present the benefits of education for girls, she promised to provide all necessary support for her daughter to educate”, Dr. Humair said.

About two weeks later, Dr. Humaira received a call from the same girl again. She had good news and informed Dr. Humaira that she’s now going to school, “I enrolled in a community-based education class. After I’ve completed of this course, I will be shifted to the formal school”, the girl shared.

 

Dr. Humaira is happy that she was not only able to support the girl in pursuing her dream of education, but also able to instill a behavioral change in the mind of the mother so that she allowed her daughter to go to school. “I’m proud of the support I was able to provide to this girl. However, she’s not the only one who needs my help. There are thousands of parents whose behavior needs to be changed in this country so that young people have a future.”

 

By: Abdul Rahman Zaeem