Zakia stands outside her house with some of the sheep she takes care of. Bamyan province of Afghanistan.

Zakia stands outside her house with some of the sheep she takes care of. Bamyan province of Afghanistan.

Zakia, 7
Bamyan province of Afghanistan.

Zakia mother is Zainab, 45 years old. Her four sisters are Alima (2), Rubaba (5), Suaila (9) and Amina (12). Her older brother Shamsullah is 15 years old.

Zakiaâs father died of respiratory infection last year.
Zakia and all her brothers and sisters stopped going to school shortly after their father died. They help in the house, look after the animals and collect wood for the winter.
Now they live crammed in a small room where they eat, sleep and live together. The room is part of a house that is left vacant by a family of the village that immigrated to Iran. They allowed Zakiaâs family to stay while they are away.
Zakia helps taking care of the two sheep owned by the family, in the winter they donât produce milk and even this source of food is missing. She went to school for some weeks before her father died but then she had to stop and never completed the first year.
Her mother Zainab is 45 years old and cannot work (women are not usually working outside the household in rural Afghanistan).
Her brother Shamsullah is 15 and he is working sporadically for other farmers of the village. He is the sole breadwinner for this family of seven.

Zainab (Zakiaâs mother):
âMost time we donât have food, we live out of the charity of the other families in the villageâ.

Zakia:
âWhen I wake up I help my mum with the fire and then I take the animals to the mountainâ.
I ask her about what she eats for breakfast or lunch and the answer is always the same: âbread, sometime teaâ.
âI liked going to school, I liked the books and the pens, I would like to become a teacher, I would like to teach mathâ. For now she canât read or write or count.
âI donât have friendsâ, Zakia spend most of her time with her mum and sisters. âI like to help my mumâ.
Zakia takes me to see her sheep, it is already snowing in her village in early October, âI donât like the snowâ she tells me.

Interview by Lorenzo Tugnoli for ActionAid

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