At Skateistan, we believe that every child has the right to a quality education and that all children should have spaces where they feel safe, have fun and be themselves. Children like Ali, who have fled conflict, are often left out of educational and sports activities. We reach out to these communities to help get children involved in our programs. Join our Skateboarding is for Everybody campaign and help us to raise $150,000 by the end of 2018 so we can ensure no child is left behind.
Ali is 11 years old and he attends Back-to-School, an accelerated learning program for children who are out of school at Skateistan in Mazar-e-Sharif. But Ali was never meant to be in Mazar. He comes from Faryab in the north of Afghanistan, an area that has been deeply affected by fighting.
“We had a good life in Faryab and everything was going well. But then there were attacks. A lot of men, women and children were killed. They destroyed our school and our houses and we had to move to Mazar-e-Sharif.”
Ali and his family now live in a camp for internally displaced people on the outskirts of Mazar-e-Sharif. The camp is far from the city and it costs a lot to travel in for school or work. Most families live in tents and they suffer from the cold winter temperatures in Mazar.
“I never had any chance to do sport at the camp. Most of the time I just played outside with my friends and sometimes I worked with my father.”
The biggest problem for Ali was that he was no longer attending school and there is no school in the camp. He was worried that he would miss out on his education because of the move to Mazar.
“I am 11 years old and I should be in grade 4. But because of our migration, I could not continue in my lessons.”
But then one of his friends told him about Skateistan. Ali’s friend was one of Skateistan’s Back-to-School students from last year. He had followed an accelerated learning program which enabled him to rejoin public school after one year at Skateistan. He told Ali he should enroll too so that he wouldn’t miss out on his education.
“It was good news for me that I can continue my lessons!”
Ali now comes to Skateistan five days per week and spend three hours a day in the classroom. We provide transport and a meal for him to ensure he’s safe and healthy and we work with the Ministry of Education in Afghanistan to help children like Ali return to public school when they have finished their classes with us.
When he first came to Skateistan, Ali was not very sociable and he spoke very little. His self-confidence was very low. But now, after seven months in the Back-to-School program, he has changed a lot.His Educator, Mahnaz said:
“Ali can now read and write, he plays soccer and he can do skateboarding. One of the best things about Ali is how he always helps his classmates in their lessons. Ali is always trying to learn the lessons very quickly. When I asked him why he’s so keen to learn quickly, he said he is determined to go back to public school in Grade 4.”
Ali’s father is also happy about the progress his son is making.
“Ali’s behavior has changed a lot since he started coming to Skateistan. He is very good and polite and he has learned reading and writing. I know that Ali will have a good future because he is a talented boy and his teacher helped him in a good way.”
Ali was interviewed by Noorzai and Mubaraka.