I will never tell my children again (I don’t have money) for your play tools, because now I have my own income, from my own efforts.
This is the speech of Maqbula a young woman from Mazar province Dehdadi district. Maqbula lives in a poor family with her husband, 3 children (two sons and one daughter), mother in law and father in law. Dehdadi district of Balkh province is a remote area where most of the women are living in a critical economy situation. Maqbula is one these women who has spent a bad economy situation. She added that (we were living in a very critical economy situation, we found food and other necessary equipment of life with hard working). Her husband has a small shop in their village, due to lack of his capital and weak economy manner, he has only a few type of grocery stuff in his shop. She was suffering from the situation that she was faced with. she said that “I well remembers the moment that while my children were asking for money to buy (toys) tools for plying with other children, and I was not able even give them one AFs”. I was inevitable to say them (I don’t have money) for your play tools. Every day she was thinking about her family critical economy situation, and her children future. As she added that she was very interested to help her husband, but there was no way to have an income opportunity in our society for women.
Finally, Allah accepted my prays, one of my relatives informed me about Self-health group program in our village. I went to the house of team leader of Self-health group and registered myself for the program.
This program was launched by AWEC office in our village for six months, during this period I learned about dairy products process, and finding market for the processed products. fist the program staff trained us on process of dairy products including yogurt, milk, and milk cream. After learning of dairy process, AWEC staff conducted trainings to all members of Self-health group to find ways of selling the products and finding customers. For running our business, AWEC provided some necessary equipment to all four SHG in Dehdadi district as well.
After receiving technical skills of dairy product process, and learning of marketing for dairy products, we all members of Self-health group come to one place every day and work on processing dairy products. every day our work earns money for all the group members. This was a dream for me to have an income by myself from my own efforts, fortunately with the support of AWEC office I reached to my dreams and I have income for my family. Beside feeding of my family from my income, I buy toys (play tools) to my children. As this was my wish from long time that a day I can buy my children’s favorite tools.
In Kabul, AWEC has been working since 2014 to prevent and respond to violence face by most vulnerable children. As one of our project – co-funded by the EU – is ending in December 2016, we thought it was time to sit and discuss with some community leaders of the neighborhoods to collect their feedbacks, as they were involved and fully participated in the success of the activities held at our 3 “Child Protection Centers”.
Gul jan, 45 years old, is one of the active member of women shura of the district 6 of Kabul. Early 2015, project staff met some female shura members and discuss about the intervention of AWEC – and how they could support our work: for instance, by identifying girls facing violence, as in the Afghan context most of them stay inside the houses and are not visible by the field workers.
In the past 2 years, Gul jan was able to refer no less than 43 cases of children (20 girls) to AWEC project. Of AWEC and partner she says “there are many organizations that are working in the child protection but it is very difficult to trust them”.
What was the most relevant and useful according to her? “through the activities of the center the risk of violence towards the children are decreasing (…) the awareness sessions were very useful because they make aware the parents about the rights of their children, their role and responsibility, the importance of education and especially awareness about the early/forced marriages”.
On this sensitive topic (52% of girls in Afghanistan are getting married before 15 years old as per Save the Children last survey), Guljan is saying that “we can see the positive changes in the behavior of the parents such as there are less early/ forced marriages in comparison to the other years”.
For AWEC and partners, the involvement of local communities is key to ensure a sustainable approach for our projects: it strengthens what we called “child protection community mechanisms” and allows a community based approach which we believe in the only way to pave long term achievement. To work with women in Afghanistan, even if more difficult, gave us tremendous success in the strengthening of the respect of Child Rights and children resilience. A positive impact that is shared by Gul Jan “I am very happy to work with such an organization that is focusing on the future of the children of Afghanistan”.
Interview done in Kabul AWEC Child protection center – October 2016