On Saturday 8 September, a Taliban suicide bomber, rumoured to be age 12 or 13, killed six children near the NATO headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. The area, home to a number of government buildings, is known for attracting kids affected by poverty, who support their families by selling trinkets, scarves and chewing gum to soldiers, aid workers and journalists who filter in and out of the war-torn city.
Four of those killed were students belonging to a charity youth project that was the subject of a Dazed & Confused documentary in 2010. Dazed commissioned director Orlando von Einsiedel to make a short film about Skateistan – an extraordinary Kabul-based project, free from religious and political influence, which uses skateboarding as a means to engage and educate marginalised children and teenagers.
“I was deeply saddened to hear about the tragic deaths of the Skateistan pupils caught up in Saturday's suicide bombing,” said Einsiedel. “It's especially sad that the bomber was barely out of childhood himself. The kids that were killed all had bright futures ahead of them; one wanted to be a doctor, another the country's best skater. There was also a young girl who wanted to prove that women can do anything men can. It's such a waste of life. My thoughts are with everyone affected by the incident. Skateistan is such a positive beacon for Kabul's children, bringing together groups from differing economic and ethnic backgrounds and mixing them all together, so that they form positive relationships rather than ones based on mistrust and misunderstanding.”
A grim reminder of the day-to-day reality for young people growing up in Afghanistan, this incredibly sad news reinforces just how imperative the Skateistan initiative is as a safe haven for children in a city where violence continues to ruin people’s lives.
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