Zaher* ran away from a violent home at a young age and found himself living on the streets of Afghanistan. Tragically, Zaher’s abuse was perpetuated on the streets where it became habitual for members of street gangs to sexually abuse him. He was eight years old.
This is Zaher’s Story
One of four siblings, Zaher grew up in Kabul, the son of a bricklayer. His mother ran a small business in their family compound, where women would bring their dough to be baked in their ovens. The family struggled financially and Zaher’s parents would often behave violently towards him. One day, Zaher stole money from his parents and ran away.
Zaher made friends with other boys who lived on the streets, but he wasn’t safe. It became habitual for members of street gangs to sexually abuse Zaher.
Eventually, Zaher’s parents found him. When he told them about what had happened to him on the streets, his father locked him in the basement. Not only had Zaher brought shame on the family by stealing from them, but also by being sexually abused. His father told him he was unclean, and threatened to kill him.
Zaher’s siblings were his only way out, and they freed him from the basement and helped him to leave home for a second time.
Back on the streets, Zaher tried begging as a means of income. It didn’t work and Zaher found himself going without food and water for days. The police found Zaher and referred him to Hagar’s Forgotten No More program for boys―currently, the only boys’ shelter that exists for abused and trafficked boys in Afghanistan.
Now, Zaher is thriving. He is a healthy and happy young man who loves to learn. Zaher excels in English and IT and has attended vocational training to learn how to fix mobile phones.
“I am really very happy and thankful for the services provided here,” comments Zaher.
Currently, Hagar is working with Zaher’s father, providing counselling to overcome barriers of shame and help him accept Zaher back into the family. It will be a long journey but Hagar’s team is persevering and hold hope that one day Zaher will be back with his family.
“One day, I will be back with my family again. I’ll be an engineer and serve my people. I will improve my family’s situation when I am a man.”
Zaher, a resilient child survivor of abuse.
*Hagar pursues the highest degree of care and protection for its clients; names have been changed and images do not necessarily reflect the individual profiled.