“Afghan girl competes in World Health Organization Painting Contest.”

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Aschiana student Samya Hamasi has ranked third in a painting competition among 200 children from Afghanistan.

Samya's painting, Copyright WHO
Samya’s painting, Copyright WHO

The Mediterranean East Section of World Health Organization (WHO) organized the competition on depression in which thousands of people participated from across the world. The event took place on April 9, 2017, in a celebration of World Health Day. The WHO Director for Afghanistan, Deputy Minister of Ministry of Public Health, and ASCHIANA Director awarded a certificate of appreciation to Samya Hamasi.

Samya is a 17-year-old girl Kapisa province, north of Kabul. In the center of Kabul, she learned painting at The Aschiana Center for orphans and street children, which provides vocational training.

Depression is a topic that Samya knows very well, as her sister suffered from depression. Her painting shows a person suffering from depression sitting in the dark, and for a long time her sister wanted to just sit in the dark and not talk to anyone.

“My mother and I tried to talk with my sister and eventually her condition improved,” Samya said. “This was the inspiration for my paintings: the lighting of the darkness.”

She told the BBC that war and violence cause depression, and her drawing shows that healthy people can help depressed individuals.

Samya Hamasi, Copyright WHO
Samya Hamasi, Copyright WHO

According to the Minister of Health of Afghanistan, 72 percent of women with depression and 60 percent of men are under stress. The World Health Organization says that more than a million people in Afghanistan suffer from depression. The true figure may be higher. Poverty, insecurity, war, unemployment, disability, gender violence and drug use can contribute to the disease.

Samya hopes to go to college, study law, and eventually return to her birthplace of Kapisa province.

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