Kimya lives in Baghlan, Afghanistan. In 2017, a Canadian-supported program helped her build a low-cost greenhouse, enabling her to feed her family with the vegetables she produced and supplement the family income from the sale of excess crops and seedlings.
After the spread of COVID-19, many, including Kimya’s eldest son, a rental driver, lost their jobs. But the greenhouse has enabled their family to weather the pandemic. Of the 6,000 tomato seedlings produced through the greenhouse, Kimya sold half to support her family’s needs. In the spirit of community philanthropy, she gave the other half to neighbours who could not afford to buy the seedlings.
“This program has enabled me to cope with these new problems, and helped my family cope,” she says.
During the pandemic, Kimya bought masks for her children to keep them safe from COVID-19. But when she went back to buy more, she noticed the prices had gone up exponentially, and she couldn’t afford to keep buying them.
Using some of her earnings from selling the seedlings, Kimya bought raw materials and started stitching masks at home. “The masks in the market are very expensive and disposable, but the masks I produce are cheap, and can be washed and reused,” she says. Her masks sell for AFN 10 (around 18 cents Canadian), about five times cheaper than the disposable ones in the market. On top of earning extra income for her family, Kimya has also provided 300 free masks for people who could not afford them.
While the pandemic has placed added stress and burden on many women like Kimya, it has also highlighted the important role they play in their families and their communities. By continuing to invest in women’s empowerment and economic inclusion during, and beyond the pandemic, we are helping entire communities survive and thrive, even in times of crisis.
Learn more about the Afghanistan Women’s Empowerment Program by clicking here.