Shakila Faizi, Master Embroiderer

Shakila Faizi’s life story is one of resilience and determination. Despite facing numerous challenges early on, including the loss of her father and being forced into marriage at a young age, she managed to find solace in her children and the art of embroidery. Her talent in Shaba Qaleen (pulled thread embroidery) became a valuable asset toward meeting her family’s expenses; but she did not stop there.

In December 2020, when she heard about the opportunity provided by the UNHCR funded Made in Afghanistan project for skilled Afghan artisans, Shakila applied and was selected to join this initiative. Throughout her participation in the project, she learned new design skills as well as marketing techniques and how to communicate to best promote her business. She created a wide range of items and participated in local and international exhibitions. Shakila was happy when her work was shipped to the United States in 2022 and sold well there.  Also, she earned money participating in the Palladium Exhibition in Herat on March 13, 2023, where she sold her beautiful embroidery work utilizing marketing skills she learned from the Made in Afghanistan programming. At that exhibit, in addition to financial profit, she received recognition for her talent and that praise has boosted her confidence, inspiring her to dream big.

Shakila’s success is inspiring to others as well and highlights the importance of investing in women and continuing to offer opportunities for gifted and skilled artisans to develop and showcase their talents. Shakila and her goals of opening her own studio with space to teach young women the art of embroidery are testimonial to the transformative power of such initiatives. It is heartening to see that through the Made in Afghanistan project, Shakila has expanded her worldview and is prepared to take action to create a real opportunity to provide a brighter future for herself and her family. She said, “Now I feel confident to go forward. I am saving to invest in my dream to open my own studio and to teach the art and skills of Guldozi (flower themed embroidery), Roban Dozi (embroidery using ribbon in place of thread), Shaba Qaleen and macramé.”

Ali Azimi: Successful Fine Artist, Successful Businessman, and Successful Teacher

Ali Azimi, a native of Daikundi Province, graduated from the UNHCR-funded Made in Afghanistan (MaA) project in September 2021. He had been displaced from his hometown of in 2019 and was living in Jebrail District of Herat City. “We had no job opportunities in Daikundi and there was insecurity, we had to escape to Herat,” Ali said,

Ali lives with his mother and two siblings, while his father work in Iran to earn money to support his family in Herat. When they lived in Daikundi, Ali attended school, but he dropped out because of financial constraints. In Herat, he discovered his talent for art and learned how to paint at a private art school. However he had no idea about how to promote his career and failed to find a good market for his work. But others discovered his talent and he was recommended to the Made in Afghanistan project 2021. During this intervention, Ali was provided with all he needed to create art, including monthly stipends.

“I have enriched my professional skills here and improved my communications skills and learned how to market my paintings. I was mentored and also participated in local exhibitions where I learned how to effectively communicate with customers, how to assess market demands and how to sell my work,” Ali stated.

Ali’s life has steadily improved; he supports his siblings’ education, he also went back to school and with the skills he learned at MaA he has established his own art studio. He teaches 20 students who study drawing, painting, and calligraphy. Currently, he earns around AFN 10,000 per month (USD 115.) Ali is pleased.