One Square at a Time: Afghanistan Impact Story
Children from the Street Children Centre in Herat, Afghanistan, with the wraps they received through a partnership between World Vision and Wrap With Love.
A gift of love from thousands of miles away
Ibrahim, aged 10, could hardly contain his excitement when he received a warm, woolen wrap made by caring Australian volunteers.
"That is for me? It is so beautiful!" he exclaimed, hugging the wrap tightly to his chest and then asking uncertainly, "Can I take it home?"
Ibrahim attends the World Vision-supported Street Children Centre in Herat, Afghanistan's third largest city, near the border with Iran.
Like most children who attend the centre, Ibrahim goes out to work on the streets each day to earn income because his parents can't support him.
Life on the streets leaves these children extremely vulnerable. Many have been abused and mistreated. Older boys are particularly vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse, and to being lured into criminal activity.
And the story of struggle deepens when winter arrives as temperatures can drop below minus 10°C. Only a few families can afford to buy blankets and winter clothes to keep their children warm.
It's not surprising that Ibrahim and many other children who attend the centre were thrilled to receive soft and colourful woolen wraps, hand-crafted by Australian volunteers and delivered through a partnership between World Vision and Wrap With Love.
Receiving a wrap made with love by strangers who live thousands of miles away reminds them that there are people who care about their struggles and want to help make their lives a little easier.
Over the last 15 years, World Vision has distributed around 150,000 Wrap With Love wraps in countries including Afghanistan, Burundi, Malawi, Somalia, Iraq, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.
Now we're inviting Spotlight customers to join this special partnership and help show a little love to children in need by making one square at a time.
All you need to do is knit or crochet one or more squares and drop them off at your local Spotlight store. Wrap with Love volunteers will then stitch the squares into wraps to be delivered to vulnerable children and families in Australia and around the world by partners including World Vision.
It's estimated that one-third of Afghanistan's population live below the poverty line. Many families can't meet their children's basic needs for food, clothing, education and healthcare.
In Herat, up to 7,000 children are working on the streets to support their families instead of attending school. Most try to sell items to passersby, pick up trash or beg.
Many of the children attending the Street Children Centre have never received a gift from anyone in their lives.
When Zeynab, aged eight, was presented with her wrap, a huge smile spread across her face. "I am looking forward to using it tonight!" she said. "I will take care of it so that I can use it for a long time."
Zeynab attends the centre most days after finishing work. "I sell four kilograms of pistachios every day," she explained. "At the end of the day … the supplier will give me 30 Afghanis ). Then I will give the money to my mother.
The centre provides the children with healthcare, counselling and remedial learning classes. It also offers psychosocial and parental counselling to the children's parents and caregivers, many who are unskilled casual labourers struggling to keep their families together.
Sepida, aged nine, works with her mother cleaning wool and she has never been to school. "I'd like to go to school, but I have to work," she said.
"This is my first time someone is giving such a colourful blanket. I have been always sharing a blanket with my sister. "Tonight," she said proudly, "I will use my own blanket."
Please join us in spreading the love even further, one square at a time.
Names changed to protect identity.