YOUR APRIL peace mail from Afghanistan
My name is Mahrukh* and I live in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. I am in high school with other girls. I enjoy learning. Only a few girls my age have stayed in school and many of us are the first girls in our families to get an education.
Mohammad Omar Siddiq/CWS-A
In Afghanistan, women make up only 16% of the workforce. As more girls are educated, we need more roles for women. To help girls at my school find employment, Act for Peace’s partner here, Community World Service Asia (CWS-A), introduced a range of skill based classes to our school. Of the courses offered, I took up embroidery.
We do it by hand, and along with some other girls in my class it is my favourite part of school. Embroidery is considered an ancient art that began with bone, sinew and animal pelts. Wearing embroidery used to be a clear sign of wealth because it was all done by hand - an agonizingly slow process that made the items incredibly expensive. Therefore, the making and selling of hand embroidered products is well respected and is one of the most sought after options of running small businesses from your home to earn an income.
The first thing I learned in class was to embroider. We are provided with the needles, clothes and other necessary materials. Once we get better, we then learn how to market our products for sale. I was considered one of the best at embroidery and design, and I learned to create items that were in demand, like clothes for women. The products I made were so beautiful and well-designed that women began travelling from other villages to buy them. For the first time I was earning an income for my family.
CWS-A and my parents have supported me and helped my business expand. My father spoke to CWS-A for their help to find markets for my products. CWS-A found a wholesaler who loved my clothes and commissioned me to make 15 pairs of clothes each week.
This was great news but I couldn’t do it all myself. CWS-A and my school helped me employ other girls to meet the demand. I have trained three other girls in embroidery and now, they are earning an income for their families too!
I hope that I will be an example for struggling and hopeful business women in Afghanistan. With the support of my family, and higher education in business management, I hope to expand my business to the highest levels of success.
Thank you so much for the gift of education and the opportunity to start my own business.
*Mahrukh’sname has been changed to protect her identity as a minor.
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Act for Peace's partner in Afghanistan, CWS-A's Girls Education Projects incorporate trade and skills-based classes along with the regular school curriculum. 60 skills-based classes are offered to high school girls on topics such as embroidery, painting, drawing, health and hygiene, glass painting, stitching and dyeing. These are conducted across participating schools each year.
This gives girls the chance too learn new vocation skills and empowers them with the ability to earn an income in the future. Debates, speech delivery and participating in school-level competitions are also offered to help build confidence and self-esteem in these girls in the Nanarhar and Laghman provinces of Afghanistan
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- $229 will help train a teacher in skills to support students with life skills beyond the school curriculum.
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