Teenage boy recites Burns Night prayer for millions impacted by Afghan crisis

Arya Bostani recites ‘The Selkirk Grace’ to help raise funds for those facing extreme hunger.

Katharine Hay
Tuesday 25 January 2022 00:01
Arya Bostani (Disasters Emergency Committee/PA)
Arya Bostani (Disasters Emergency Committee/PA)

A 14-year-old Afghan Scottish schoolboy from Glasgow has recited a Scots prayer for Burns Night to help raise funds for the ongoing food crisis in Afghanistan.

Arya Bostani, whose father Abdul came to Scotland from Afghanistan 20 years ago, has recorded a version of “The Selkirk Grace”.

The Scots-language prayer is traditionally delivered at a Burns supper and has been attributed to the esteemed Scottish poet Robert Burns after he is said to have recited it at a dinner held by the Earl of Selkirk in 1794.

Arya’s reading has been recorded with the help of Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) in Scotland, a charity which is campaigning to raise funds for the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan.

A video of his prayer recital can be found on the charity’s website.

When large-scale disasters hit countries without the capacity to respond, DEC groups 15 leading UK aid charities to raise funds quickly and provide a humanitarian response.

The emergency response charity launched an fundraising appeal earlier this winter for the millions of people on the brink of famine as drought, conflict and the Covid-19 pandemic continue to cause widespread hunger and soaring food prices in Afghanistan.

One million children under the age of five are at risk of dying amid the ongoing crisis, the charity said.

Huw Owen, from the DEC in Scotland, said: “The scale of the crisis in Afghanistan is almost impossible to comprehend, the images of children suffering from malnutrition in the freezing cold are almost impossible to bear.

“We all know how much pain and misery the pandemic has inflicted here in Scotland and across the UK but imagine dealing with that whilst also being desperately short of food this Winter.

“This Burns Night, please celebrate that you have ‘meat to eat’, but also take just a moment to donate to the DEC Appeal and help families in Afghanistan get the food they so badly need. Your donation will help save lives.”

The charity’s campaign has raised almost £3 million from donations in Scotland, and a wider UK total of £32.9 million in just over a month.

DEC said it is using the funds to provide emergency food and malnutrition treatment for children, strengthening chronically weakened health services and providing warm clothing and blankets to help people who have had to flee their homes.

A breakdown of how far a donation can go is as follows:

– £10 could provide treatment to a child suffering from malnutrition for three weeks

– £20 could feed a family for a week

– £25 could provide blankets for 5 people for the winter months

– £100 could provide emergency food to a family for three months

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