I’m from Kabul originally, from the centre of the city. Things were good when I was growing up. People had access to education, to health, higher education - the University was good. At that time Afghanistan was really improving. But when the mujahideen came, I think I was nineteen at the time, everything was destroyed, starting a series of wars. It was very dangerous. Fighting in every street, physical fighting. And also rockets. It stopped me from ever going to university, I just had to survive, and almost didn’t. Rockets hit the workshop I was working in at the time (I was repairing water pumps), one landed just three metres from me, I don’t understand how, but I survived. Eleven other people didn’t. But the biggest scars people have from that time are psychological. The sound of shooting stays with you. Even to this day. I suppose that’s my ‘gift’ from the mujahideen.

I first worked for CiC as a security guard, protecting our work at Allauddin orphanage. It had been badly hit during fighting and we were rehabilitating it to take in orphans from other orphanages and the city streets. I worked one day on, one day off. On my free days I volunteered to help out with a very secret project we were running at the time called home-based schools. The Taliban were now in power at this time. Women were not allowed to work and girls were not allowed to learn – but this project recruited women who could teach girls from within their own homes. I would deliver stationery on my bicycle to one of the centres. I never knew how many we had in total, the education manager kept it very secret. I don’t think any of the schools were ever discovered, I never heard that they were.

Allauddin orphanage, where Timor first worked as a guard for Children in Crisis in 1997

I think one of my toughest times at CiC was when another charity was accused of teaching children about Christianity. The Taliban shut down all charities. All CiC staff were told to stay at home, except me and another guard – we had to protect the office. Communication with London was really difficult and so we felt alone, isolated and we had a Taliban ‘minder’ at the office. They were very difficult to live with, I was beaten two or three times because my beard was not long enough. It was the same when the Americans bombed the city, this feeling of isolation. This is why, every day I choose to have lunch with the guards, the cooks and the cleaners at our office – to show them how much they are valued by the organisation.

I think one of my biggest strengths is my loyalty to CiC – I am grateful for the career path I have had here, from guard to Country Director and the training that enabled me to do this. I think that I’m most proud of our Community Based Education Centres (CBECs). If you want to change something in Afghanistan it’s not about buildings, but education and social work.

Timor with students at a Community Based Education Centre. He is most proud of this work, providing education to out-of-school children

Why should people keep supporting our work in Afghanistan? Because there are more battles to be won. Women still very much live in a ‘jail’, not allowed to go outside or to make their own decisions. Early marriage is still very common. We are constantly bringing changes to our projects to make sure we’re focusing on the right things – like our emergency education work for refugee children. It’s good to change, to keep evolving.

Read more

Project
Girls, child labourers, or refugees fleeing the Taliban. These are the forgotten children who are being given a second chance to learn at our community schools in Kabul.
Video
Our In-home Care Project is enabling families of disabled children to give them therapy at home and working to bring disabled children out of hiding and into everyday Afghan life.
Case study
"My family wouldn't let me go to school. I used to get so angry, I’d cry watching other children walking to class in the morning."