In Afghanistan, incarcerated women are imprisoned along with their children,.

Why we care: In Afghanistan, many women are sent to prison with their children for escaping violence and forced marriages. In this difficult time, these women and their children deserve to remain in each other’s lives and connected.

How we’re solving this: We have created safe, loving homes while providing prison visit transportation for children previously living in prison with their mothers.

Recognizing the importance of preserving the mother-child bond, Women for Afghan Women arranges regular visits to Afghan prisons so children can stay connected to their mothers and creates safe, loving homes for children previously living in prison. In order to continue to provide our children with this wide range of services, we require a new van that will take them to visit their mothers, and transport them to and from school and to doctor’s appointments.

Zahra was happily married with four children. One day, a man in a military uniform came to speak with her husband. Her husband never returned and he was later presumed dead. Frightened, she moved in with her mother-in-law, but instead of finding support and a place to grieve, she was accused of murdering her husband. As a result, Zahra was sent to prison with her four children, ages 7 to 15 years old.

As of 2011, there were more than 250 children living in Afghanistan’s prisons, many of whom had been born there. They live side-by-side with potentially dangerous inmates in a filthy and chaotic environment. They have no access to school or any children’s activities. Many mothers choose to have their children with them because it is often safer than sending them to live with relatives where they may be used as house servants, sold, or forced into prostitution.

In 2009, Women for Afghan Women opened the first Children’s Support Center in Kabul, which takes in children from three nearby prisons. Mothers are required to sign a protocol and permission slip that allows their child to be placed under the 24-hour care of Women for Afghan Women. When this Children’s Support Center first opened, staff had to convince reluctant mothers to transfer their children to our facility. Now, many mothers living in prisons find us and request that we take their children. Since 2009, 165 children have called this center home.

 The CSC provides a safe and loving home environment where children receive:

  • Individual care and support;
  • Three nutritious meals a day and snacks;
  • Clothing and basic necessities;
  • Daily educational classes in the center and accelerated courses for children who have never been to school;
  • School books and uniforms for children who are ready to attend local schools;
  • Time and space for sports as well as recreational and cultural activities;
  • Medical and psychological care both on and off site; and
  • A safe environment to learn, grow, and reclaim their childhood.

Because of the Kabul Children’s Support Center, Zahra’s four children have their childhoods back. They are thriving in their new home and are excelling in school. While Zahra longs to be reunited with her children, she is grateful for their regular visits and for how well they are progressing.

“My children are happy again,” Zahra recently said.