Afghan Kite Runners: Smiling Face Behind Harsh Reality

People in the Afghan capital of Kabul, irrespective of their age, look happy flying kites out in the open, but behind all that laughter they have their own bitter stories to share.

Living in a country that witnesses continuous wars and conflicts, the outdoor activity of flying kites is one of the most joyous pastime for the Afghans, especially for the younger lot.

Every Friday, many young people would come to a hillside park in Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan district where the geographical location and strong wind make it suitable for flying kites. The plot of Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel ‘The Kite Runner’ is also in the same district.

People fly their kites, while trying to cut the string of others’ kites using their own. When the string is cut off, people would chase the lost kite and the one who gets it will have the right over it.

Kite flying has been a nation-wide outdoor sport for more than 100 years. It is enjoyed by all people no matter what their social class backgrounds are.

“I like flying kites. I come here with my friends to fly kites here every Friday,” said Milad, a young boy.

“I like kites. This is a common hobby of young people and adults. People and their families would come here to play on Fridays,” said Waheedullah, another young boy.

Flying kites and running around with enthusiasm, they hardly show the bitterness behind their smiling face.

Many school children are doing part-time jobs besides attending school to take care of their family income.

Milad says he sells drinks and juice on the street, while Waheedullah sells paper and tissue products outside a supermarket.

Local government and education authorities did not ban such part-time jobs among students.

Kite seller Abdul Wahab who used to be a medical student, says he could not find a proper job after graduation.

“I wouldn’t be selling kites here if I were able to find other jobs in Afghanistan. I earn 3 to 10 afghanis for each kite (about 0.04 to 0.15 U.S. dollars). I will not keep doing this business. I have to say that this is very sad that I ended up doing this after 14 years of studying in school. I want to work hard to build my country where my friends can live a good life and there will be no more beggars and refugees,” said kite seller Abdul Wahab.

While younger generation continues to struggle to find a proper livelihood, their day-to-day happiness never gets deterred and they continue to look for a better tomorrow.
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6 thoughts on “Afghan Kite Runners: Smiling Face Behind Harsh Reality

  1. Those kids are so mature and well spoken compared to their Western counterparts. I asked my professor to translate their words. Damn they are very mature. It's sad what they are going through.

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