Faces of Afghanistan

We have  set up this page so that you, our extended PARSA family, can connect with the people we support and work with in Afghanistan. Faces of Afghanistan tells the stories of the Afghans whose lives have been touched by PARSA.

Raykhana

Raykhana

Raykhana has been working in our PARSA agriculture program since April 2014. She moved to Kabul from Ghazni seven years ago because her land in her home province had no access to water and became impossible to farm. She has four children who attend school, and she is the sole breadwinner in her family as her husband is jobless. She started working with PARSA through our Dost-i-Barchi women’s center, and comes every day to take care of the cows and other animals. She is grateful for the opportunity to work and hopes we will be able to grow our agriculture program so that she can expand her role.

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Laila

Laila is a widow and mother of five children who has worked at PARSA since 2004. Four years ago Laila was pressured by family to remarry to the advantage of the family but her prospective bridegroom refused to take her children; they would have been left to an orphanage. Laila refused the suit, and took on two jobs at PARSA to make sure she could support herself and her children without relying on her family. This year Laila has taken on an additional responsibility, teaching sewing to women in our PARSA-affiliated battered women’s shelter, AWSDC. She is one of our most valued employees.

ismet

Ismet

Ismet has worked with PARSA for 16 years! He is one of our grounds keepers and has been one of our most reliable employees. He is a father of 8 children, one of whom is developmentally disabled. Ismet bicycles to work every day from his home in Paghman, 35 kilometers away, yet is rarely late. He has taken care of us for most of the time PARSA has been open as an NGO. Ismet spent his 42nd birthday with our PARSA staff this year and we celebrated his commitment to PARSA. His birthday wish? To learn English. We are happy to have Ismet in our PARSA family.

Mina

Mina

Mina has been working in PARSA’s agriculture program at Marastoon since April 2014. She became involved in PARSA after joining the Dost-i-Barchi women’s group that PARSA supports, and was one of the women who asked PARSA for training in agriculture practices. Her and the other women travel to our offices in Marastoon daily and work in the gardens and on the farm. They plant crops, take care of the chickens, milk and care for the cows, and pick and prune the fruit trees. In exchange for their labor they take home the fresh, organic vegetables, milk, fruit and eggs that they collect – for sale in the market and for their families to consume. PARSA also buys some of the fresh produce for our Afghan Garden Kitchen Friday Brunch. Mina is a widow and uneducated, so the program is a major support in helping take care of her four children.

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Laila

Laila is a mother of five, and she lives with her husband, mother and sister.  She works in the business center outside of Kabul a couple days a week to sew items for sale, to bring money into the family, she is illiterate …her husband is a day laborer earning $4 a day if he gets work.  She wanted to train to be a “support group facilitator” for her women’s community. On the first day of her training, she told the group that she was fighting with her husband about both coming to the women’s business center, earning money, and then coming to the support group facilitators training.  He said to her that it was immodest and bad for her to work outside the house in this way. She told the group that she and her husband fight a lot.  She said “I am so stressed and unhappy in my marriage!! He never has enough work, we never have enough to eat and all he does is criticize me.”  During the practice support group  sessions she worked with the other women in the group, talking about what she wanted to change in her life, and how to talk about that to her husband without fighting.  The support groups are set up for the women to work together on their problems, give each other support and advice.  Each day that Laila came to the support group, she was a little calmer.  At the end of the week she reported” My husband stopped fighting with me.  He can see coming here and working in the support group, being trained to be a leader has made me feel better.  We are both under so much stress!  Today, my mother and sister were making bad remarks about my work at the center and this training.  He pulled me aside and said “Don’t listen to them.  You go and learn to be a leader! It is good for our family.”

Mawgul

Mawgul

Mawgul came to Kabul from Ghazni around eight years ago with her friend Raykhana. She also works in our agriculture program taking care of our PARSA Farm cows and chickens. Like Raykhana, she is the sole supporter of her family including her husband, who was previously working but lost his job last year, and her five children. Raykhana earns approximately 50 USD per month at PARSA, plus an additional amount paid in fresh milk and vegetables. Before starting at PARSA her family was struggling to get by, so her work has been a huge support. She would like to raise sheep at PARSA in the future

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Nasrine

Nasrine is a widow from Nuristan with four children who has worked for PARSA for four years as a literacy teacher and is now training to be a tailor.  A woman of great dignity and intelligence, she shared her story with us last month.  During the Taliban occupation Nasrine and her family were confronted by local Taliban; her husband was killed in front of his family and her eldest daughter taken away. To this day the pain is so fresh that it is difficult for her to recount it. Despite this, Nasrine is emerging as a women’s leader at PARSA due to her maturity and high value for excellence in all her assignments as a staff member.

Shaima

Shaima

Shaima is one of the five daughters of Bibi Jan, the widow from Jawzareen, Bamiyan province who was the inspiration for and first beneficiary of PARSA’s economic program there. Bibi Jan’s wish was to earn enough money so that her daughters did not have to marry. Shaima, along with her sisters, has helped her mother’s business grow by working on the final touches of stitching for PARSA’s Afghan quilts. Now the family has a herd of goats and sheep, a cow that they milk and make products from, and they are self-sufficient as a family.

Mustafa

Gul Ahmad Mustafa

Gul Ahmad Mustafa has a long history of involvement with the Afghan Scouts going back all the way to the 1960s. He first joined the Afghan Scouts in 1968 when he was a young boy, and stayed in Scouting until 1978 at the time of the Soviet Invasion. In 2002 he was once again recruited to help revamp the Scouting program and then when it became a PARSA program he joined our staff as our National Scouts Program Training Manager. His smile and positivity have made him an irreplaceable member of the Scout team. Mustafa is a dedicated Scout leader and proponent of the Afghan Scout Movement. His four daughters and two sons are all also active Afghan Scouts and will themselves be leaders one day.

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Khadija

Khadija joined our women’s group in Bamiyan two years ago. She was widowed by the Taliban and she has two girls to raise while living with her husband’s brother’s family. Although the family took Khadija in as is expected in Afghan culture, she had no income which meant that she and her daughters could not contribute to the family and were relegated to labor. Her daughters were not allowed to go to school. When Khadija joined PARSA’s artisan group for women, she began coming half days to PARSA offices to embroider, stitch together slippers out of traditionally pressed felt material, and knit gloves. PARSA would give her and the others materials to make the items and then purchase their items to sell in the PARSA Gift Shop in Bamiyan and Kabul. As Khadija earned money, she was able to give to the family which elevated her status and value. She stood up for her daughters, and could pay for their uniforms and supplies to go to school. Khadija’s earnings, which are about $40 a month, changed how she sees herself and her own value. She has become a contributing member of her extended family which has given her respect and more control over the future of her daughters.