A few years ago, a report published by UNICEF placed Afghanistan as the “second poorest country in the world” and the “worst place to be born in the world”. With 70% of the population without access to clean drinking water and 46% living below the poverty line, it’s no surprise that the children there are faced with tremendous obstacles in their everyday lives.
War,violence and terrorism are all to blame for these things. Hospitals are few and far apart and schools are constantly under attack. The average annual income for Afghan workers is under $500 a year which is not much for one person, much less for someone who supports a family. 20% of children are forced into child labor in order to provide for themselves and to help their families survive.
Like all kids, children in Afghanistan love to play and enjoy sports and games with their friends. Since only 60% of children in Afghanistan are enrolled in school, the time spent with friends is especially important for building communication skills and growing. Although many boys are allowed to play, girls often sit on the sidelines and are forbidden to partake in sports or riding bicycles. But no one said anything about skateboards, right?
Back in 2007, Australian skateboarder Oliver Percovich launched Skateistan, an international non-governmental organization that works with youth from a range of ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds to build trust and to provide empowerment through a combination of skateboarding and educational activities. This program exists in South Africa, Columbia and Afghanistan. The space in Afghanistan has approximately 300 young girls attending classes each week.
Check out the short documentary The State of Skate – Skateistan in Afghanistan below to learn more about how this new phenomenon is empowering young ladies and giving kids in Afghanistan a safe place to learn, play and skate.