News & Stories Stories Najla's story In the poor and patriarchal communities of rural Afghanistan, women aren’t allowed to leave the house alone and are not given the opportunity to learn the skills they need to earn a living. Take Najla from Koh Daraz, a small village in Northern Afghanistan. Before she came into contact with Afghanaid, life was desperate for her and her six children. Her husband, Karim, is deaf and suffers from mental health issues which leave him unable to work; but he wouldn’t allow Najla to leave the house, so she wasn’t able to earn a living either. As a result, they couldn’t provide even the basic essentials for their family. Their youngest daughter died because they couldn’t afford to take her to a doctor. Then Afghanaid offered Najila the opportunity to take part in a training course and everything changed. Because she would be trained by women and would be able to work from home, Karim let Najla take part, and she was able to get the skills and tools she needed to cultivate a small vegetable plot and set up her own business. “Before Afghanaid, my family was really struggling. I did not really know how to grow vegetables properly, or how to turn them into chutneys, so what little we did grow often rotted away and went to waste. Since taking part in the training, I can grow all sorts of vegetables like leeks, spinach, turnips and tomatoes. Now, I can put nutritious food on my family’s plates. And not just that: I have also learned how to start my own business and how to be a successful entrepreneur. With the money I am now making from selling my vegetables and home-made chutneys, I am able to buy soap to keep my family clean and healthy, I can afford uniforms and books so that my children can attend school and I can finally get Karim the medical care he needs. Help more women like Najla achieve their potential and lift their families out of poverty "Afghanaid also set up a savings group with other women from the project, through which I was able to get a loan to buy a cow - something I never imagined I would be able to do! My family now has fresh milk to use and I sell what is left, along with yoghurts which I learned how to make during the training. With this extra money, I have been able to pay back my loan and I now contribute money into the savings group each month so that other women can take out a loan as I have done.” Afghanaid knows that the best way to empower women is to enable them to generate their own income. Women with their own money are not only able to lift their families out of poverty - they are women with power. They command respect and break down stereotypes. “Four years ago, Karim wouldn’t let me leave the house, now he really appreciates everything I do for our family and has asked for my forgiveness for restricting me in the past. Karim says he is very happy to see how much I enjoy working in the garden and he is proud of me for providing for our children. He can see how much our lives have changed. I did not have the opportunity to go to school when I was younger. Even if I had been allowed, I would not have been able to go because of the conflict that was ongoing at the time. It is important to me that all of my children, including my daughters, go to school and get an education. I know it is good for their future. If they ever say they don’t want to go to school I remind them, if you do not have an education you are like a blind person, and education opens your eyes. It is amazing to be able to feel life getting better around you. Before Afghanaid came into my life, I was under a lot of stress, now, everything has changed and being busy in my garden has made a lot of tension disappear in my life. Worrying about money used to give me a headache but now those worries have disappeared. These days, my whole family is much happier and they respect me much more. Our neighbours have been really supportive of my business too and they really enjoy the chutneys that I make. Before, I could not attend weddings or invite guests to the house out of shame. Now, I am able to participate in community life and my position in the village has really improved. Whenever I have time I work in my garden - I really enjoy spending time in there! During the training with Afghanaid I learned all about greenhouses so, when the project ended, I built my own small greenhouse so that I can continue to grow my business. For a long time, things were getting worse for my family, not even staying the same; now, with Afghanaid’s support, our lives have improved so much.” How you can help: This winter we are asking for your support to help vulnerable drought-hit families make it through the colder months.