|How your money helps: Afghanistan
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28 October, 2009
Photo: Christian Aid
'After completing the literacy class, I want to go to school, to get a proper education and get a job to have an income and a secure life.'
An occasional series looking at the work of Christian Aid's partners.
This article looks at the Skills Training and Rehabilitation Society (STARS), which has been a Christian Aid partner since 2007.
Karmeen Herawi begged her husband and her parents to let her attend the STARS women’s literacy course.
Now she can read and write, and says she wants to serve on the women’s shura for the whole of Ghor province – or even become a parliamentarian.
Karmeen discusses why many Afghan women cannot read or write, and issues of poverty and corruption that face her country.
Why did you want to come to the literacy class?
It was my own interest to come and learn how to read and write. If you can’t read or write, you cannot read books and learn more. My favourite books that I want to be able to read well are history books.
How many people come to the class? Are they all young like you?
There’s thirty or so women and girls who come. Most are about my age, but some are younger or older. The oldest ones are probably in their fifties but never learned to read before.
What will you do after you have completed the literacy course?
After completing the literacy course, I would like to start in a school and continue a normal education. I want to become a teacher one day.
Why is it important to be educated?
Educated people know about their rights, about their role in the community. As a woman, if someone says a bad thing, I should stand up for my rights.
What are your rights, as you understand them?
My father and mother should let me go to school, and should provide the things I need for me.
What do you want to do in the future?
After completing the literacy class, I want to go to school, to get a proper education and get a job to have an income and a secure life.
At the moment, I don’t want to have children. I would like to try life in another country other than Afghanistan, but it is impossible because my parents would not allow me to do this, and also because I have no money to go. I’d like to live in India, there are a lot of television series set in India and it looks very nice.
What do you think about the general situation in Afghanistan?
I wish that the Afghan government would help people to reduce poverty. We need schools and roads badly.
What job would you like to do when you finish your education?
After my education I would like to become either the head of the women’s shura in Chaghcharan, or a parliamentarian. Not just because of the salary, but to help people – especially women – to know about their rights and how to protect them.
Why didn’t you learn to read and write before you were 15?
I didn’t learn to read and write before because there was no school and no class in the village. And because during the Taliban time girls’ education was forbidden.
The Skills Training and Rehabilitation Society (STARS) was established in 1997, and has been a Christian Aid partner since 2007.
Their mission is to provide support to vulnerable groups of Afghan society for social and economic development, particularly for women.
They focus particularly on rural areas, aiming to slow down migration to urban slums by improving rural conditions. Their main activities revolve around skills development and income generation.
What Christian Aid is doing
With Christian Aid’s support, STARS is working with women:
- Running literacy classes – these improve social status and provide employment opportunities. Through the classes, STARS can also teach people about health, hygiene and human rights.
- Sheep and goats, and animal husbandry training, provide people with food for their children, and an income for the family.
- Kitchen gardens provide families with vegetables, that previously lived only on milk, cheese, yogurt, bread and rice.
- Training to weave traditional Afghan carpets to bring in an important extra income.
Visit Christian Aid's website