The Tale of a Blue Whale in Afghanistan

'Pay it forward.' 

Francisca's blue whale and the Hazara boy.

Do something for someone or donate something without expecting anything in return, except the hope that this person when given the opportunity, will do something for another person too. I've carried this little whale with me since my first EU/UN mission in 2009.

Back then, I traveled to Afghanistan  to observe the elections and it was the first time I had been separated from my then 4-year-old daughter. I used to cry every night, clinging to the small whale, longing to have my daughter in my arms soon enough.

During the day I would walk around with it inside my bra, (yes, you read it right, well inside my bra !!) mainly since the night of the rocket attacks where we had to run to take refuge in the bunker of the UN base I was staying. Since that night I decided that I could very well leave everything behind except the little blue whale, because it was like leaving Francisca such was the importance of the little plastic toy to my mental sanity.

Five years later, and in a perfect circle, I returned to Afghanistan in 2014, by then the small whale had traveled with a little Minnie, and we traveled half the world together in a quasi-diplomatic representation of my daughter Francisca. Pakistan, Ivory Coast, DR Congo etc and such, there were always children to donate to but for fear of hurting my daughter I never did. Until she told me: Mom, I think you should give it to some child who has no toys.

So, five years on I finally did it. To a little Hazara boy who I've met accompanying his elder sister to work.

It was now in good hands. The circle closed perfectly, And I was only the messenger of this very small donation.

A baleia azul da Francisca e o menino Hazara
Fazer algo para alguém ou doar algo sem esperar nada em troca, excepto a esperança que essa pessoa quando tiver a oportunidade e vontade faça algo por outro que não ao mesmo. Carreguei comigo esta pequena baleia desde a minha primeira missão em 2009. 

Há cinco anos quando fui observar as eleições no Afeganistão, era a primeira vez que me separava da minha filha, de então 4 anos. Chorava todos os dias a noite, agarrada à baleia cheia de saudades de ter a minha filha coladinha a mim. 

Durante o dia andava com ela dentro do soutien, (sim, leram bem no soutien!!) principalmente desde a noite dos ataques de rockets onde corremos para nos refugiarmos no bunker da base da ONU. Desde essa noite decidi que poderia deixar tudo para trás menos a pequena baleia azul, porque era como deixar a Francisca tal era a importância do pequeno brinquedo de plástico para a minha sanidade mental. 

Volvidos 5 anos e num círculo perfeito, regressei ao Afeganistão em 2014, pelo meio a pequena baleia que agora viajava já com uma pequena Minnie viajamos meio mundo juntas em representação quasi diplomática da minha Francisca. Paquistão, Costa do Marfim, Congo Belga etc e tal, havia sempre crianças a quem doar mas com medo de magoar a minha filha nunca o fiz. Até que me disse : mãe acho que devias doar a alguma criança que não tenha brinquedos. 

Assim, cinco anos depois fi-lo. A um pequeno menino Hazara que acompanhava a irmã no seu trabalho. 
Ficou em boas mãos. O ciclo fechou na perfeição. Eu fui só fui a mensageira desta pequena boa acção.

Other memories from Afghanistan!

UNDP meeting with local candudates and yes, I'm the pink lady in the back :)

During election day in 2009, I was invited by these two ladies for some sheesha break I refused but joined them nevertheless :)
My ride from Kandahar to Herat

Herat from a terrace mid town overlooking the citadel! 


Sónia is the founder and writer of Amniotico- Parenting, Travel and Tales. She began this blog in 2005 with two posts about parenting, the year she had daughter Francisca. Then life happened. Now since 2014 with a whole new focus on Parenting and Travel. Sonia is also an international Human Rights and Elections expert and as such has worked with the United Nations and European Union in many parts of the globe, including conflict and war torn countries while being a single mom!


  1. What a wonderful story - both about your love for your daughter and paying it forward. Thanks so much for sharing it!

    1. Thank you so much <3 It's really about giving back too.

  2. Wow. This story really touched my heart. I can really feel your love of your daughter and the world could always use a little more love. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Kelly you are always so sweet! It's like reading your much love there!!

  3. a beautiful story - thank you for sharing this on this special day

  4. Love to explore more amazing cultural traditions of different nations.
    meet and greet stansted