Oghlika, a 39-year-old woman, is a mother of four daughters and a son. Her husband has been missing for two years, leaving her to face the challenges of raising their children alone. Oghlika resides in Sheer Abad, Turkmenistan, and ever since her husband disappeared on the Mazar-e-Sharif-Kabul route, life has been extremely difficult for her and her children.
Reflecting on the past few years, Oghlika shares, “When my husband disappeared, our lives crumbled. My children and I faced numerous financial struggles and relied on the support of people in our community to get by. It was an arduous existence.”
Oghlika was invited by her colleagues from the coastal region to participate in a women’s empowerment project in Sheer Abad, Turkmenistan. The project aimed to identify, recruit, and register women who were eager to have a job and support their families. Oghlika decided to pursue a career in fabric shopkeeping and joined a group of women involved in this enterprise.
Expressing her interest in shopkeeping, Oghlika shares, “I have always been fascinated by the idea of running a shop, and my mother and sister from Turkey used to send me Turkish clothes to sell here. However, due to the increasing value of the Afghan currency, Turkish products have become expensive, and people no longer buy them. As a result, I joined this project to buy and sell locally.”
Desiring a way to overcome economic difficulties and thrive, Oghlika became aware of and joined the women’s empowerment program. She recalls, “When I heard about this program, my children and I were overjoyed. My brother and sister encouraged me, saying, ‘We support your participation, and you need to take the first steps.'”
In the initial stages of planning, Oghlika extensively educated herself about the fabric shopkeeping business. She learned about buying and selling transactions, as well as calculations, and feels confident and knowledgeable in these areas. Oghlika shares, “I enjoy acquiring new skills through workshops and training sessions. I even managed to learn Persian, as my mother tongue is Turkish, and previously I struggled to communicate in our predominantly Persian-speaking community.”
Oghlika devised plans to expand her business and borrowed 12,000 Afghanis from a group loan program. With the borrowed money, she purchased fabrics. Currently, she has already repaid three thousand Afghanis to the group. Oghlika sells a minimum of two meters of fabric daily and generates approximately one thousand Afghanis in sales within a week.
Expressing her satisfaction with the HIHAO empowerment program, Oghlika states, “This project establishes essential businesses for women, providing them with a secure future for growth and development.” Her message to other women is to seek employment to support their families and children and to actively contribute to and strengthen their communities.