15 Jun 2012

Caring in Kabul – Channel 4 News viewers help family

It was back in the biting cold of a Kabul January that Guncha Gul and his family first came to the notice of Channel 4 News viewers.

Mehran Bozorgnia’s harrowing images of Najib aged nine and his brother Hajib aged eleven out in the rubbish heaps picking plastic for recycling for 14 hours a day, had an immediate impact.

We’d scarcely got back to the UK before we were feeling the effects. Viewers contacted Channel 4 News asking how they could help the family.

We considered various options, viewers were keen to help on a long-term basis and provide some means of insuring the children would ideally be off the streets and into school – and perhaps the family might have somewhere better to live than a freezing mud room, in the corner of a compound in Kabul.

To cut a lot of form filling short, this month we’ve set the family up with a bank account at their local branch of Kabul Bank.

Thanks to the generosity of our viewers around £100 per month will go from a British account set up specially, to Kabul, to transform the lives of this family.

I can report that the children have been registered for the local school and Najib and Habib are no longer forced to collect plastic on the streets all day long. 

Further, the redoubtable Mahmood, our long time Kabul “fixer” – he of the beard and suit in the pictures – is keeping a close eye on the family and ensuring the money is spent as it should be.

The world is a busy place. Many things compete for the attention of our viewers. And times are hard here in the UK. But what strikes you here is the way in which people kept true to their promises and desire to help a family in desperate straits, as the months went by setting all this up.

To them, my thanks on behalf of Channel 4 News for their quiet patience, for caring, for making a difference.

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