Omeed spends up to 10 hours every day selling newspapers on the rubble-strewn streets of Kabul. He'd rather be in school. But his family desperately needs the money. Like thousands of other Kabul children who are forced to work or beg on the streets, Omeed is sacrificing his future to help his family survive.
Omeed's father was persecuted and thrown in jail by the Taliban. They escaped to Pakistan, where Omeed worked long hours as a weaver in a carpet factory. He hoped to return to school when they came back to Afghanistan, but his father makes very little money from his street stall. On a good day Omeed can bring home up to $1. That makes him the principle breadwinner in the family where he is the oldest of five children.
Yet, despite the obstacles, Omeed is determined to learn. He should be in sixth grade, but is only in second because of his years as a refugee in Pakistan. After more than a month away from classes he returns to his school, where his teacher chastises him for his absence. He promises his teacher than he will make school his first priority. But that is a difficult promise to keep when his family is hungry.
"We did not have food at my home, so I had to work," he says. "Afghanistan is a terrible place for kids. It turns kids into hoodlums."