Changing the Story: This is Omid

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Omid lives in Kabul and he’s 13. He’s been working on the streets of Kabul since he was five. Omid’s father died when Omid was just five years old and as the oldest boy, Omid had to start working to provide for his family. He never went to school.

One day when Omid was working he saw an advert in the city. He couldn’t read it because he’d never been to school and no one in his family could read or write so he had never learned. He asked an old man who was nearby what the advert said. He explained to Omid that it was about getting a good education. But that wasn’t possible for Omid so he didn’t think about it again.

One day the Community Educator from Skateistan visited the community where Omid’s family lives. Skateistan Community Educators are responsible for encouraging children to attend Skateistan and for helping families to see the benefits of our programs. Omid was out working that day so he didn’t see the Community Educator, but she visited his mother. She told Omid’s mother that Omid could attend Skateistan and access free education classes as well as enjoying skateboarding and making friends his own age. His mother thought it would be too late for Omid as he had missed so much school but the Community Educator told her about the Back-to-School program and how it could help Omid to catch up. Back-to-School is an accelerated learning program for children who are out of school. They come to Skateistan five days per week and cover three grades in one year.

When Omid came back home after hard day’s work, his mother told him about Skateistan and his chance to get an education. Omid remembered the old man telling him about the advert he had seen years before. He decided at that point that he would join Skateistan’s programs so that he could eventually become a teacher and help poor children like himself.

"I knew this was the only way I could build a better future for myself and for my country. We need education if we want to improve Afghanistan."

Omid started the Back-to-School program with lots of wishes and dreams. On his first day, he learned about self-confidence and how important it is to set goals for himself so that he is always moving forward. Day by day, Omid learned more and more and built up his skills in reading, writing and math. Omid finished in third position in the first grade class and now he can write the alphabet and his name in Dari as well as many other words. He then set himself the goal of finishing in second position in the second grade. He worked hard and achieved this, so he then set himself the same goal for grade three.

His favourite lessons are Dari and life skills.

"I liked learning the Dari alphabet because that is the first step in reading and writing. I want to be a teacher in the future so I will need to be good in Dari."

In his life skills lessons, he learned about the importance of being polite and respectful.

"It's good to learn about how to speak properly to others, especially those who are older than me. This will help me in society."

Earlier this year, Omid graduated from the Back-to-School program and came second overall in his class. He was then enrolled into public school and began classes in grade four. He hasn’t stopped setting himself goals — he has promised himself that he will finish his education and also that he will keep working hard on his lessons outside of school. This is something he can get help with at Skateistan and he still comes to use the library space and to enjoy skateboarding.

Omid’s future now looks very different — he has learned about how he can change things in his life for the better.

"Before I came to Skateistan, my only wish was just to live every day, but now I have this dream to study and improve my future and to bring changes in other people's lives. This is a change that I got from Skateistan and now I have hope for the future."

For children growing up in unstable environments, the future can be a difficult concept. Our creative education programs spark ideas about how the world could be different and give children a chance to see how they can play a role in creating a better future for themselves and their communities. You can help to change their stories.

For their future. Donate today.

*Omid’s name has been changed in accordance with Skateistan’s Child Protection Policy.