Basmina* is 13 and she lives in Kabul. She wasn’t born in Kabul; her family is from Logar province but they fled to Kabul because of insecurity and conflict in Logar. She is one of thousands of internally displaced children in Kabul seeking a safe place to survive.
Life has not been easy for Basmina or her family. Her father is a soldier and has to be away for six month periods. Her mother stays at home to look after the family, which is large - Basmina has four sisters and four brothers and they live together with her uncle’s family. There is never enough money.
The family moved to Kabul in 2019 and Basmina started coming to Skateistan. This was totally new for her - she had never been to school before. In Logar, many girls are out of school and some members of her family and community have put pressure on Basmina to quit school. But her mother is adamant that her daughter should have a chance at an education. She herself did not go to school and she can’t read or write. She is determined that her children will have a brighter future. So when Basmina started coming to Skateistan, she joined the Back-to-School program, which is for children who are not in school. Five days a week, they follow the Afghan national curriculum and they are then enrolled in public school once they have caught up.
When Basmina first came to Skateistan, she was really nervous and she had tons of questions in her mind. She was worried because at 11, she was older than many of the students in her class. Her educators reassured her that age doesn’t matter and that you’re never too old to start learning.
Over the next few months, Basmina noticed a change in herself. She started to feel more confident and even began to dream of her future. She wants to be a doctor and she no longer felt like that would be impossible for her. According to her educators, she is a hardworking, bright, articulate and kind girl.
And then the lockdown came. In March 2020, all Skateistan Skate Schools had to close for in-person classes due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This was the first time since we opened the doors in Kabul in 2009 that we had suspended programs indefinitely. For children like Basmina, this was really hard to take.
The team in Kabul got to work straight away to offer support and remote programs to our students. This included distributing food, hygiene supplies and learning materials as well as organizing activities for students to do at home. Although it wasn’t the same experience as being together with her friends, Basmina used the time to learn more about herself.
In September last year, the Skate School in Afghanistan reopened for students. Staff take care to keep educating students about hygiene and infection and they follow the regulations set out in the Skate Schools. Basmina has now been enrolled in public school, following her successful graduation from the Back-to-School program at Skateistan.
Now, Basmina is studying in Grade 6 and she is happy that she finally joined the formal education in a hub school. She actively takes part in her class, does her homework and is present in the class every day. Her love for skateboarding has not diminished. Basmina is still coming to Skateistan for the Skate and Create program and she continues to be a role model for other students. We can’t wait to see what sort of future Basmina will build for herself, now that she is Back on Board.
Skateistan is running a fundraising campaign to support students as they return to Skate School after lockdown restrictions. If you want to help more children like Basmina get Back on Board, please consider donating to Skateistan today.
*Basmina’s name has been changed in accordance with Skateistan’s Child Protection Policy.