29-year old Sayed Abdullah Hashemi, an orphan himself, has taken over the Director of Orphanages position in Afghanistan's Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. In just 7 months he has dramatically turned around conditions in large Kabul orphanages and is now trying to bring better conditions to all of Afghanistan.
Hashimi explains his commitment to his work: “When I was six months old my father and then my mother died. Growing up was difficult and early on I had the desire to help people who faced difficulties, wherever they are,” he says.
Hashemi introduced himself to the Afghan orphanage system with unannounced visits - audits - that left some corrupt employees in jail and others running to resign when gross corruption and negligence turned out to be the norm. Now though, the kids have hot water, warm clothes, nutritious meals, computers and an array of new classes, playgrounds....the list goes on and on.
Better conditions for orphans
One girl in the 10th grade says, “Now we have computer courses and English lessons, we didn't have this before. Now we have everything”.
Hashemi credits the minister and the orphanage employees with “working 24 hours a day” to make the changes. One head of a Kabul orphanage said that since Hashemi has taken charge the orphanage employees are more active.
But the daunting job ahead is to bring the same relief and improvement to orphans all over the country. Hashemi and his department are initiating legislation in parliament to standardise conditions all over the country but in the short-term he will continue to carry out impromptu audits at orphanages across Afghanistan.