The pandemic threatens vulnerable families.

Heela, 8 years old,
'returnee', got back her childhood

The protection and counselling support Heela and her family got from the social worker is priceless, as they now live together peacefully and she has developed a life more in line with the one of a little girl’s.

After living almost her whole life as a refugee in Pakistan, 6 months ago, her father decided to go back to Afghanistan due to their difficult situation. Together with her stepmother, her three sisters and brothers, they moved to a village not far from Kabul. This family joins the so-called ‘returnees’, the many Afghan refugees coming back to their country after living in exile for a long time.

In a vulnerable situation

Many returnee families face difficult conditions and poverty back in their home country. Affected by this situation as well, Heela had to help her father at work, who is a poultry owner. Therefore, she couldn’t go to school and every day, when she came back from work, she had to do domestic tasks, such as bringing water home, cleaning and taking care of her younger sisters and brother. As she is the only child from another woman, her stepmother did not treat her as part of the family. She was beaten and verbally abused on a daily basis.

Psychological and social support

This is when Tdh started working in Heela’s village. After having identified the child and after several house visits with the family, she was allowed to attend the Child Friendly Space we have set up, managed by a volunteer trained by Tdh. Thanks to the support Heela got through games and activites, she she started feeling more comfortable interacting with other children.

Counselling for her family

In parallel to this support, the Tdh social worker carried out specific sessions with the parents about child rights and child protection, explaining how negative it is for Heela’s development to be involved in child labour at such a young age. The social worker also did an effort to improve the girl’s situation in the family and to reduce the violence against her.

This support is priceless for Heela because the family now functions in a better way and she has developed a life more in line with the one of a little girl’s. Last but not least, Heela has enrolled into the village school – and therefore gained access to education.