As the blazing sun beats down on Tagab, a village nestled on the side of a steep mountain, 20 year-old Masoma works her way through the new feeding routine for her livestock.

Like most in her village, Masoma, her father and four siblings rely entirely on agriculture to support themselves - they grow crops on their land and they own a small flock of sheep and a donkey. Despite this, families like Masoma’s have never learned how to look after their animals properly, or how to get the most out of them.

On top of this, whilst striking, the landscape is harsh and the extreme weather throughout the year is unforgiving. From flash-floods to droughts, and freezing winds to heavy snowfall, families here are battling against a lot just to get by. As a result, Masoma’s family often had to go without daily essentials. 

“Our animals were often weak and couldn’t work or carry the load well.” She reflects,

“We were usually only able to keep a donkey alive for about a year. This meant we could not collect our harvest or get to the market. As a result, we often went hungry.

Masoma’s mother died many years ago and, with employment opportunities few and far between in this remote area of the country, no one in the family has ever been able to secure a paid job. Having nothing to fall back on has made life particularly difficult for their family, as they have to rely on what they can produce on their land, and what their father can sell at the market, if he can get there. This is rarely enough. They work hard but have often had to go without daily essentials.

Then Afghanaid came to her village to launch a project in partnership with Brooke, an animal welfare charity, and Masoma enrolled in our training course. She has since taken part in six sessions on various topics, covering animal welfare and health management.

Knowledge as a life-changing tool

Having this knowledge is particularly life-changing for families like Masoma's. Earlier this year, we went to see how she was getting on.

Since taking part in this training course, Masoma has a new appreciation for the importance of their animals.

“I realise now that we weren't looking after our animals, we were just feeding them,” she reflects, "After taking part in this training course, and learning how each animal can contribute to our income, I am now taking much better care of our donkey and sheep. These days they are much healthier, so they are producing more for us, and our donkey is happy, calm and working hard. This means we are healthier and stronger too!" 

Masoma has also enrolled in one of Afghanaid’s training courses in dairy processing, learning the skills she needs to produce dairy products from their sheep’s milk.

“In the past, we would get dairy products from the market at high prices, if we could afford it, but now I have learned how to produce yoghurt, butter, and cheese for us at home, we can save this money,” she says. Masoma’s family now has a more nutritious diet, and she loads the surplus dairy products onto her donkey to carry them on the long journey to the market to sell, thus increasing her family’s income.

Masoma has big plans for the future

“Thanks to Afghanaid, we now understand the importance of our animals, especially our donkey. We know that we should always take care of all animals well, and how to give each of them the best possible life we can. We also understand that when the animals are healthy they can work harder and produce more for us, so we are healthier and stronger too!" 

Her family's situation is starting to improve and they are all getting healthier. Once they have earned enough money, Masoma says she hopes to invest some of it back into her new business, to improve and expand it.

For families like Masoma's, having the skills and tools to be self-sufficient is absolutely vital, particularly during these difficult times.

How can I help families in Afghanistan?

Afghanaid is working incredibly hard to protect and support vulnerable communities in Afghanistan during this Coronavirus crisis. We are adapting our existing work to ensure the safety of people like Masoma, as well as responding directly to the crisis.

During challenging times, donations from our supporters are an absolutely vital resource, and will help to ensure we can continue to reach those who need it most, and provide vital assistance to the most vulnerable.