From your award winning charity
05 January 2018

Below Zero: Bibi’s Story

Muslim Hands

Note: This article was written in 2018. Read the latest stories from this year's winter.

In Afghanistan, stretching through the hills surrounding Kabul, are warrens of hastily built camps packed with the crude homes of thousands of families displaced by conflict. These shelters were built as a temporary solution, somewhere IDP families could sit tight while they waited to return home. For most of the residents, however, this wait turned into weeks, months and now years.

36-year-old Bibi Hawa is raising her four children in one such camp. She moved here to keep her family safe from the violence which encroached upon her home. As a widow, she's the sole provider and earns what little she can working in a nearby household. Her wages are spent on food and clothing for her children, but it's not enough.

The majority of widows like Bibi are uneducated - 85% of Afghan women and girls are illiterate - and often treated as outcasts by the communities around them, who consider them a burden. They face great difficulty obtaining assistance from the authorities, or earning a meaningful income, so they must rely on humanitarian aid to survive.

Though she would like to, Bibi cannot afford to send her children to school. Out of desperation, they spend their days collecting plastic shopping bags and cans to sell in the market for a small amount of money.

Bibi is a committed and hardworking woman. More than anything, she wants to be able to provide for her family. She told Muslim Hands’ aid workers that she would dearly love a dairy cow to produce milk, butter, yoghurt and other products she could use to feed her family and sell to generate a livelihood.

Her youngest child - her only daughter - suffers from malnutrition and is particularly at risk of severe illness during the freezing winter months. Winter in these encampments is terribly harsh and residents frequently endure temperatures below freezing, sometimes dropping as low as -15 degrees Celsius – cold so harsh it can kill. The gift of food and warm clothing can help people in conditions like these survive through months of cold.

Thanks to people like yourself, Bibi will be able to feed her family throughout the winter and protect her daughter from worsening sickness. She says, 'I want to say thank you for supporting needy families like us'.

Muslim Hands is an award-winning charity, established in 1993 to provide emergency relief and tackle the root causes of poverty. This includes providing vital winter relief across the globe every year. Give to our Winter Appeal to help families like Bibi Hawa's survive the harsh weather.

Muslim Hands UK

Established in 1993, Muslim Hands is an aid agency and NGO helping those affected by poverty, conflict and natural disaster in over 20 countries worldwide.