Now 35, Arifa Rohani is a “Made in Afghanistan” project participant from the project’s host community in Herat City. She completed her fine art studies at the University of Herat in 2010. Arifa’s father died when she was six years old. She explained the family’s situation, “We were destitute. When I graduated from university, I had to work to support my family, but my income was insufficient to meet our needs.” In 2011, Arifa opened a small art gallery near her home to exhibit and sell her calligraphy and paintings. She said, “I had no marketing approach, and could not earn enough to afford the rent of the premises or to buy supplies. I felt miserable and closed my gallery.”
However, after some years passed, Arifa was discovered by the WADAN outreach team and delighted when she was notified that she had met the project selection criteria for “Made in Afghanistan.” She joined the project on March 15, 2021. Arifa learned marketing skills and developed her design skills, she received a financial allowance, a monthly stipend to buy supplies; her ambition was revived and her artwork was nourished. She became an entrepreneur with her newly acquired business acumen. She said, “I also gained salable skills including painting on wood, pottery and glass. I have become prominent in Herat City.”
Arifa earns a regular income that averages more than AFN 10,000 per month through sales in Afghan and international exhibitions. In the US, her work has been sent to Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington DC. Handpainted storybooks and drawing and design work that includes painting on clothing and hand-blown Herat glass are Arifa’s current projects. “I was very inspired when my products were exhibited internationally; this would have been unimaginable before joining “Made in Afghanistan.” I was delighted when my work went to the United States. I wanted to understand how to approach international markets as I have learned how to take an active part in the local exhibitions. I have learned the skills that contribute to sustainable entrepreneurship and I will make my work sustainable.
Asma is a nine-year-old girl who was forced by her father, Waziristan, to work at the Torkham border crossing due to the severe poverty her family is suffering from. She lives with her parents, four brothers, and three sisters in Door Baba Village which is located in Gorkoh District, Nangarhar Province. It is a mountainous village on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. “We walked for an hour every day to Torkham, I loaded and pushed a cart with travelers’ luggage between Afghanistan and Pakistan. My little body couldn’t do this heavy work.” Asma said.
Asma and hundreds of other boys and girls in Dor Baba were deprived of education as accessibility to public schools was hindered due to lack of schools in their territory, poverty, impassible routes, and remote mountainous locations. This area was identified in severe need of Community Based Education (CBE). WADAN community mobilizers and child protection teams established a CBE classroom in Gorkoh on July 1, 2019. The location was a Malik’s guest room donated for CBE. Asma started to study there but along with four other classmates she was forced to drop out and was forced to go to work in Torkham.
Child Protection Officers and the CBE teacher immediately met with the children’s parents, Mullahs, and community elders to try to convince them to keep their children in the class. Mullahs and Maliks were mobilized! Child Protection Officer Maiwand Momand, said, “Training messages were delivered about child protection, the importance of education, and community mobilization.” The Maliks and Mullahs began to advocate for children’s rights. Mohammad, a prominent Mullah in the Gorkoh Village, used the mosque for community mobilization and motivated people through his Friday sermon and in other gatherings too.
Asma and the other children returned to school. She is happy to be there with her siblings and classmates. She anticipates a brilliant future, “I am studying now. I want to be a doctor.” Nakhtar Lal, the CBE teacher, was impressed by this development. He said, “I was suffering when I saw these little girls and boys going to Torkham every day, but now I am happy as the Child Protection team and I were able to convince Mullahs and then the parent to support education. They all are committed now. Thanks to WADAN and thanks to UNICEF.”