January 4th, 2011
10:42 AM ET

Child scavenges trash for family's survival

Five-year-old Marjan sniffles from the cold as she struggles under her load. Hoisted on her back is a bag almost as big as she is.

Instead of going to school, Marjan scavenges for hours with her 10-year-old aunt collecting trash. It is a heavy burden for such a small child but a necessary one. The trash she collects is what her family uses as fuel for cooking and, more importantly, to fend off Kabul's bitter winter.

It is a matter of life and death for someone so young.

UNICEF, the UN children's agency, says that Afghanistan is the worst place in the world to be a child. One in five children do not live past the age of five. Afghanistan is second only to Sierra Leone when it comes to child mortality. Most of those deaths are caused by curable childhood diseases and malnutrition, compounded by the security situation, which means that parents are unable to access proper health care.

Read more from CNN's Arwa Damon

Filed under: Life and Culture
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Paula Pina

    I would like to help this family. How can i do this?

    January 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kim Smith

    Please contact me about this child. I want to help her. If you know of any way of getting items to her or her family that would be helpful. I will do a money/product drive if necessary.

    January 4, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. wendy

    I would love to send her some blankets and clothes. Could you please contact me.
    I have three girls and this really touched my heart. wac

    January 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jamie

      I got some poor kids in my neighborhood, send me the money and blankets, I'll pass it out to the kids here, you know that old saying about you can't help somebody else till you help yourself, that goes for countries too!!

      January 14, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Asif

    I like to help this family as well and also like to know what other families out there that need help, so help can be reached to more families like this.


    January 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Martin

    Is there any attempt to move Marjan and her sister out of the country ? We would like to help or if possible adopt them.

    January 4, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. boushra alchabaoun

    My foundation would like to help support this family, how do we do this? PLEASE PLEASE respond to me

    January 4, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lata

    Hi Arwa,

    I am really moved by this story and would like to help this desperate child.......please let me know how can I do this?

    Thanks in advance.

    January 4, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poor little ones

      This is just like China except in China they use acid to remove tiny amounts of gold and lead from old computer boards.

      January 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Prem Kalicharan

      Its a difficult mission. The US is responsible for so much of the suffering there. If you give to the Red Cross it will not get to the victim you intend to receive. I am looking for people in the US to form an organization, collect used clothing and expired foods, and then each member take turns to travel there and distribute them the way he/she deems fit. Every bit counts. Yes, I hate the Taliban and I dont like the way we are destroying the lives of defenseless children.

      January 8, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
      • Just a Fly Fisher

        Hang on a minute, Prem.

        There was just as much poverty in Afghanistan before the war. There was just as much childhood disease. There was just as much childhood mortality. And to top it off, girl children were legally forbidden to attend school even if there families could send them and wished to do so. This may be hard to get your America-hating head around, but for all the suffering that remains in Afghanistan, most Afghans today – especially girls and women – are much better off than they were under Taliban rule.

        Finally, let's not forget why we are in Afghanistan – because the Taliban harbored and aided Al Qaida and are jointly responsible for the deaths of 3,000 (mostly) Americans on September 11, 2001. We owed them payback, and now that they've had it, we owe the people of Afghanistan a stable country and we can't leave until that's done.

        Now, if you were talking about Iraq, I expect we'd agree. Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant and the world and the Iraqi people are both better off without him, but that wasn't really our business. The resources and international good will we diverted to Iraq and squandered are the reason we are still in Afghanistan. If we'd stuck to the fight that was our fight, we'd almost certainly already be done there by now. I think we can agree on that much.

        January 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
      • varte

        let's try to look at it this way.No matter where a child or a woman or a man suffers,we all played a part either by ignorance or by condoning it with our silence.if indeed we want to help or change things for the better,lets not put play the blame game or take sides,let us just start "HELPING".THAT will actually improve or make a difference in the lives of people we wanted to help in the beginning.

        January 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |