Afghanistan: A father finds his sons
07-10-2003 News Release 03/125
"Don't worry about us. We are in Islamabad. We have everything we need – clothes and food – but we miss you so much". This Red Cross message, two months ago, was the first sign of life that Shaik Neymatullah had had from his sons for two years.
The ICRC last week brought the brothers, Zekria, aged seven, and Sher Hussain (11), from Pakistan to Kabul, where they were reunited with their father.
" This letter gave me back my life, " he says, holding up the message, which he keeps in an inside pocket of his jacket. He struggles to blink back the tears when he talks about how worried he had been since he lost contact with them two years ago. " I looked for my sons the whole time. I went to Pakistan to search for find them, but no luck " .
Shaik Neymatullah describes himself as a very poor man who had little to offer his sons. Their mother died shortly after the youngest was born. He sent them with a relative to Pakistan, where he hoped th ey would have a better life. But it didn't work out that way. They were put to the hard labour of weaving carpets. They escaped and lived on the streets for a while before being taken in by the Edhi Emergency Centre, which runs a children’s shelter in Rawalpindi. They were later transferred to the organization’s shelter in Islamabad.
An ICRC staff member visiting the home on another matter met the two boys and talked with them. They were able to tell him their father’s name, that he used to run a tea shop in Kabul and approximately where it was located. Based on this information – and with a lot of help from the local community – the ICRC managed to trace Shaik Neymatullah. " I’m sure that God helped me to find my children again " , says the boys’ father, adding that poor as he may be, he will do everything he can to look after his two sons and his eight-year-old daughter, who has been with him the whole time. He now makes his living as a shepherd in Wardak province, about two hours drive west of the capital. " They are all I have”, he says of his sons. “And I want to thank everyone who has helped me get them back. "
Too shy to answer questions, Sher Hussain merely nods when asked if he is happy to be back with his father. After a time he overcomes his shyness enough to describe the places where the boys lived over for the past two years. " I will never go back. "
For further information, please contact:
Helge Kvam, ICRC Kabul, tel. ++93 70 27 64 65