Hamida, her husband and their five children aged nine – 18-years-old were lucky to escape with their lives when their village of Mirza Shams was almost washed away by floodwaters in 2016. The flood arrived so suddenly they were forced to climb the trees in their yard to avoid being swept away. Left with nothing but the clothes they were standing in the family walked to Shah Rahim where local aid agencies were able to give them some help.
Desperate for a roof over their heads, but unable to afford to pay rent, the family finally agreed to rear the landlord’s animals in lieu of rent.
“The little money my husband, Mohammed Amir, was able to earn working in the fields was never enough to meet all our expenses. Day by day life was getting more difficult so I joined Hand in Hand in the hope that I could learn enough to increase the family income.
“Today, I am a poultry farmer. I keep the chickens in our back yard and by selling the eggs I earn about AFN 2,100 (US$ 27) a month which means I can buy clothes for us all and the stationary the children need for school.”
While the increase in their family income has been a big help for Hamida and her family, the Hand in Hand training has also had a far more profound impact on her life and that of the other women in Shah Rahim.
Hamida and her friends grabbed the chance to learn to read and write; indeed so many wanted to join this section of the training we had to expand the programme. Hamida found time to do her homework on the wall in her kitchen as she prepared the meals for the family – the charred wall above the wood burning stove having created a natural blackboard where with a piece of chalk she could practice her letters. The writing on the wall in the photograph says ‘our country has good weather’, ‘Islam is our religion’ and ‘salam’ (hallo). Now Hamida and the other 35 women on the literacy programme can read the schoolbooks with the children as well as things like local signage at the doctor’s surgery.
Hamida went on to say, “Now we are breadwinners, local attitudes towards me and other women just like me have changed. We are no longer just housewives. In fact, I was able to persuade my husband to allow me to work part time in the Banoo Noodle Production which means I earn an extra AFN 500 to AFN 800 (US $6 – US $10) per month. My husband would not have allowed this before Hand in Hand came to Shah Rahim.
“I feel proud to work with women in our society and support my family’s economic condition and now I have less concerns about the future of my family”.