No girlfriend for Emal

13-year old Emal is a third grader in Kabul , the capital of Afghanistan . In his school, boys and girls are separated and girlfriends are an impossibility.

By Michael Lund and Signe Daugbjerg

Emal's day starts at 6.20 am . For breakfast his mom prepares bread, a fried egg and tea. To make the tea she has to get the water from a clay well in the middle of the house. Even though Emal's father owns a butcher shop and the family is one of the richer ones in the neighbourhood in Kabul , there is still no running water and Emal and his family live in a house made of mud and clay.

Luckily, the house is only a few hundred meters from the school where Emal arrives on feet at 7.30. His first class is Dari, the official language in Kabul . The lessons take place in a room without walls because the school hasn't been rebuilt yet after years of war. The Dari class is spent on reading aloud from a blackboard and Emal is a little bored. The next class is math where he is more interested.

- I think math is fun. I'm pretty good at it and it's a good thing to know math if you want to run a business and support your family, says Emal who hopes to take over his dad's butcher shop when he grows up.

Helping dad

After math class Emal has a discussion class where the pupils can ask the teacher if there is something they don't understand. Afterwards, there's gym class where Emal and the other boys play soccer. In Emal's class there are only boys because girls and boys are seperated when they become teenagers.

- No, I don't play with girls. You don't do that here in Afghanistan , says Emal and laughs at the next question.

- Girlfriends? No, I've never had any girlfriends. Nobody has that in our school, he explains.

School finishes at 10.30 already. There is a huge lack of schoolbuildings in Afghanistan and the pupils are taught in shifts so when Emal leaves school other kids arrive to start their school day. Emal walks home, gets a bowl of rice and prepares for his English lesson. His father hays enough money to pay for private lesson, so Emal has a chance to learn English in a private school. When English class is over, Emal goes to help his father in the shop and at 6 pm he is back home again where rice and chicken is served for dinner. After dinner Emal prays to Allah on his prayer mat, and then it's off to bed. In nine hours another day begins. Without any girls.



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