After Amir and Sohrab escape from the evil Taliban official Assef, they know they cannot stay in Peshawar. Amir had originally made plans with Rahim Khan to take Sohrab, when he had found him, to "a small charity organization" in Peshawar run by Americans, "a husband and wife named Thomas and Betty Caldwell". Rahim Khan says he has seen the place, and that it is "clean and safe...the children...well cared for", and that Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell have already told him "that Sohrab would be welcome to their home" (Chapter 17). Unfortunately, now that Amir has found Sohrab, he discovers that "there never was a John and Betty Caldwell in Peshawar...they never existed". Without a safe place for him to stay, Amir cannot leave Sohrab in Peshawar; the two must leave the city, to escape the danger of being tracked down by Assef's men. Amir had planned to return to the United States from Islamabad; now, since he has nowhere else to go, Sohrab will have to accompany him there (Chapter 23).
In Islamabad, Amir tries to make arrangements to adopt Sohrab and take him back with him to the United States. As he gets to know the child better, he realizes just how horrific his life has been. Amir says that
"there are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood" (Chapter 24).
Afghanistan has suffered through years of war and political unrest. Children are born and grow up having never known peace and security, and orphans are everywhere, scrambling to survive. Children in Afghanistan rarely have had the chance to enjoy a carefree childhood, and this is especially true for the Hazara. During Hassan's time, the Hazara were looked down upon as second-class citizens and treated little better than servants. During Sohrab's time, with the coming of the Taliban, they were routinely persecuted and killed.