Changing the Story: This is Ahmad

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Ahmad* is 13 and he lives in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. He’s been coming to Skateistan for just over a year and he takes part in the Back-to-School program which is an accelerated learning program for children who are out of formal education.

Ahmad is not from Mazar, but his family moved here because of fighting in their hometown. They now live in an internally displaced person’s camp on the outskirts of Mazar and Ahmad had no opportunity to go to school.

"Before coming to Skateistan I wasn't busy with any special thing, only I was helping my mother with cleaning and other needs. When we were in our hometown we were doing agriculture to provide food for our family, and we were not able to go to school or any educational place due to the fighting."

Ahmad’s parents didn’t go to school and they can’t read or write. He said that before he came to Skateistan, education wasn’t a priority.

"Before I went to Skateistan, there was no chance for me to understand the value of education and how important it is, but now it's totally different."

Ahmad heard about Skateistan from some friends who were also living in the camp. They told him it was a place where he could learn to skateboard and take part in other sports, like climbing and football. He also heard that he could get an education there, and he was really happy when the Community Educator from Skateistan came to his neighborhood to register new students.

"The sound of Skateistan made me happy and I wanted to participate in this amazing program. When I came to Skateistan I saw so many opportunities to try new things and I felt really motivated."

Ahmad was enrolled in the Back-to-School program and this was the first time he had any formal education. Five days a week, Ahmad came to Skateistan to learn reading, writing and maths. His favourite lesson is Dari because knowing how to read and write means he can express himself better.

As part of the Back-to-School program, students also learn about some extra topics to help them in their lives. This includes lessons on hygiene, safety and living healthily. They also did a lesson about peace which Ahmad found really useful. In this lesson, they talked about what peace meant to them. Their Educators helped them to express their hopes for the future of their country and also helped them to see how the idea of peace can be applied to their own lives, for example in solving conflicts with friends or between siblings. Before moving to Mazar, Ahmad had seen a lot of fighting and he found it helpful to imagine and talk about what peace in Afghanistan could look like. He also learned some skills for keeping things peaceful in his own life:

"I feel confidant and the lesson encouraged me to bring stable changes in my life."

His attitude towards his parents, brothers, sisters and other friends has changed and Ahmad tries to help other people and deal with problems peacefully. His father told us:

"Before he started at Skateistan he was busy with his friends and he did not listen to us well when we asked him to help us at home. Now he is a good listener and he always tries to do his homework. There was no opportunity for me or his mother to study because of poverty and war, but now he can share his ideas with us and help others to be more creative."

After one year in the Back-to-School program, Ahmad had completed grades 1–3 and successfully enrolled into public school. He can now read and write and he is carrying on with his education. He also still comes to Skateistan to skate with the new Back-to-School students.

His father said:

"I'm really proud of my son. I'm thankful that he got this opportunity."

For children growing up in unstable environments, the future can be a difficult concept. Our creative education programs spark ideas about how the world could be different and give children a chance to see how they can play a role in creating a better future for themselves and their communities. You can help to change their stories.

For their future. Donate today.

*Ahmad’s name has been changed in accordance with Skateistan’s Child Protection Policy.