Vocational Training Center for Afghan Women
Organization for Promoting Afghan Women's Capabilities
Annual Report 2012
Project Title: Vocational Training Center for Women (Literary Section)
Project Location: Spin Kalay District, Kabul
Donor: SAWA Australia
Beneficiaries: 150 women and young girls
Allocated Budget for 2012: US$49,916
Total expenses in 2011: US$49,927
Allocation Period: January 2012 until December 2012
Reporting Period: January 2013
OPAWC is proud to have graduated 184 students from its Vocational Training Centre and to have 290 students in different classes of Literacy and Handicraft Training at the moment. OPAWC expresses its deepest thanks to all supporters of the Centre; with your support you lighten the way and lives of the poor and miserable women of Afghanistan.
The main objective of these courses is to empower women through education and give them skills that can help them to stand on their own feet in terms of earning a living. Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge for most of the women, particularly widows, is to feed their children, and since they are not skilled workers and not educated they cannot earn enough to run the families. The majority of the students are either housewives or unskilled workers like servant, cook and housekeeper, who are paid less than $50 per month, while skilled women earn $200 to $300 per month.
Almost one year has passed since the Literacy Section shifted to a new place called Galay Gernail District, where we received more requests from the women, and the result of the Literacy Course and its outcomes have been successful.
After one and a half months of continued survey by the teachers in different districts of Kabul, accepting every risk, we decide to locate the Literacy center in Galay Gernail near to Afshar District. As the result of the survey and campaign the staff of the Literacy Section were able to gather more than 500 students in our literacy classes, mostly women who have been deprived of education during their young ages because of displacement and war and other issues. After completion of registration the teachers took an initial examination of the new registered women and at the end of procedure they divided the students into three classes; all were set at the same level.
The staff soon started their work, following the program prescribed by the Ministry of Education, Deputy of Literacy. The program consists of
- A specific book called Land Afghan, to be taught for six months. This book includes three main subjects: Dari (basic alphabet and higher), Mathematics, Islamic issues.
- After completion of Land Afghan three more books introduced by the Ministry, each to be finished within one month. These books are about similar issues but written for higher level students.
In addition to the books that were introduced by the Deputy of Literacy of the Ministry, OPAWC includes its own lessons on useful subjects such as Human Rights, Women's Rights, Health Care and Peace Issues. All women were interested in these subjects as well.
An intermediate examination took place after the completion of Land Afghan, and those students who passed the exam successfully attended the Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 classes; those who failed restarted the Land Afghan.
As the year ends around 89 students will be graduated when their program ends after one more month, and 21 students who failed to pass the Land Afghan test will continue the program.
OPAWC tastes the fruits of its efforts; every year we present different numbers of educated women to the Afghan community. This year we held a graduation function for 184 women equipped with education and handicraft skills. The function was held in the yard of the Centre on the 10th of April. In addition to students and their families, high ranking members of the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Education, the Deputy of Literacy, the Head of NGOs in Afghanistan, the Head of Security for the area and some other members from NGOs participated in it.
The function and graduation of many women from the Centre shows how much OPAWC was successful in its struggle and activities. The Director of OPAWC Latifa Ahmady delivered a speech to the audience about the progress of the women in the center. OPAWC enables those women who were previously hidden from society and unable to read and write, but today they are confident and are able to participate in the function through their own efforts.
Mr. Allahbaz Jam (General Head of Deputy of Literacy in Afghanistan) and Mr. Hashim Basirat (General Head of NGOs) gave speeches at the function and praised OPAWC for its good and positive results. They said that for its work and activities OPAWC received the highest score among all NGOs working in the same field and extended their congratulation to OPAWC. They also gave presents to all graduating students and promised to support OPAWC in any way they can.
OPAWC director Latifa Ahmady addresses the function
The teachers hand out the certificates
Celebration of Teachers' Day
Teachers' Day was celebrated in the Vocational Training Centre on the 6th of October. It was supposed to be held on the 23rd of June, but the government changed the date to coincide with the International Teacher Day that is celebrated all around the world. OPAWC staff and students also celebrated this day, and they were happy and enjoyed themselves in the Centre.
While Teachers' Day is an occasion to celebrate, official statistics shows that around eight million children have the opportunity to go to school but around three million are deprived of going to school because of lack of security. Some 40 attacks on girls' schools have been recorded during the year, mostly from the north of Afghanistan. More than two thousand girls have been poisoned. Throwing acids on the faces of girl students is another painful issue which is very common in the country.
Teachers and staff on Teachers' Day
Workshops and Training Sessions
OPAWC staff and students participated in various workshops and training sessions. A one day Workshop on the Critique of Liberal Peace Building and on Decolonialization Theory and Methodology was held in the Centre on the 8th of October, presented by a German supporter.
Workshop on Critique of Liberal Peace Building and Decolonization
A useful and helpful workshop on Training on Gender-Based Violence Awareness was held for OPAWC staff on the 27th of June, with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and implemented by HAWCA (Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan). Lectures on different issues, like history of violence in Afghanistan, elimination of all violence against women, different fields of violence, gender and other issues related to violence against women in Afghanistan were presented. These Trainings are held while Afghanistan has the biggest range of violence against women in the world, which is 87.2%. And this range increases day by day.
A useful workshop on dental problems was presented by Nellie Fatehi, an Australian supporter from the Afghanistan Dental Relief Project (ADRP), in both sections of the Vocational Training Centre. Nellie's visit was organized by the West Australian group of SAWA (SA). Her workshop was attended by staff and students from both sections. Nellie explained how to protect teeth from decay and how to help small children to save their teeth. The students had different questions and learned different ways of teeth protection. At the end Nellie distributed toothbrushes to students and asked OPAWC to send any dental patients to the dental clinic of ADRP in Kabul and the treatment will be free for them. Since then 20 students went to the clinic and have been better.
Handicraft Training Courses:
These courses are mainly designed to empower women with earning skills like tailoring, embroidery, making wooden craft, crocheting, bead work and other crafts. Five women experts have been hired to train the women in these skills, and one supervisor has been hired to help the instructors, show them better ways of making things and produce objects with more marketing value. The students are provided with the required tools and materials at the Centre so that they can learn and practice at the same time.
The women have been divided into morning and afternoon shifts. They train in the use of machines and all aspects of production, including patterns and design, measuring, cutting, sewing, hemming and the most advanced aspects of embroidering using a variety of materials such as beads, silk and mirror sequin, and crocheting and other textile ornamental work typical of south-central Asian styles.
The compound includes space for a pressing room, a room large enough for full cutting tables and rooms for embroidering, general tailoring, industrial sewing and storage. There is also a regular classroom in the basement, and a showroom just inside the entrance to the main building.
The Centre is fully outfitted with equipment and supplies necessary to complete this training phase. Machinery includes 15 Sepro industrial sewing machines for general production, 2 Joyee industrial high-speed twin needle machines, 2 Janome "buttonhole" machines for detail work, 8 embroidery machines and 3 overlock machines. There is a full array of hand tools, cutting, measuring and pressing tools, as well as all the textiles to accommodate a variety of project learning; this includes anything from traditional ethnic dresses to elaborate handbags to uniforms to curtains to business suits.
Products of the Centre find their place in markets abroad. OPAWC received an order from Italy this year, and the products were sold in the markets of Italy. The products were attractive and well made with high quality materials. The women of the Centre are able to produce different items for sale and hope to have a chance to continue deliveries for abroad.
- As mentioned before OPAWC staff surveyed more than 500 women in Galay Gernail and registered all of them; but when the program started another NGO had started to work near the OPAWC Centre and could attract our students by offering money, food, firewood and clothes. As a result we lost most of our students; only 120 students stayed with us. Afghan people are suffering from hunger, and if even a small support is given to them they will turn to that. Last week a family sold their one year old child for only 7000 Afghans ($140) just to save the lives of its other children. But those women who decided to stay with OPAWC's Vocational Training Centre told us that OPAWC's work has produced good results during the last years and said: "We don't want gifts that last a few weeks but we want to learn something that lasts forever." OPAWC has gained an excellent reputation in this area, the families trust us and prefer OPAWC to other NGOs and therefore send their girls to the Centre.
- Lack of funds is another problem OPAWC faces, particularly in regard to the Handicraft Section of the Centre. OPAWC is really worried about this Section, it is in danger of closure. We had hoped to have a system of production going in the Centre so that we can employ the graduated women to produce and to earn money for themselves in return, but our dream seems to be as far away as ever. We did not find a donor who could fund the beginning of the production unit. The Italian donor who supported the Handicraft Section with some funds has also told us that they may not be able to fund the project any more and has asked OPAWC to decide what to do with the center. OPAWC could only reduce the cost by sparing the supervisor of the center in order to save the money for the running costs of the project.
OPAWC does not know how to close down this Section and tell the women not to come to the Centre any more, as we gathered them with lots of efforts, and all the property of this Section will go tothe government if we close the Section down.
- We need a nursery for the babies of the women attending the Centre. This problem started two years ago, and we have tried to solve this problem in some ways but we could not do it. Most of the women miss classes because of their young children. To open a nursery we have to hire a teacher for them who can teach and look after the babies as well. We would have to arrange some lunch for the children, but we are not in a position to do so. We hope to find a solution in the coming year.
2013 and beyond
OPAWC's aim is to empower women in all fields of life that can be a sort of help to prevent them from being beholden but to keep them on their own feet and offer them self determination. In the field of Literacy Education we hope that we can continue our work in the same area, but if the owner of the building does not support us we may have to shift to another place and hope to extend the Centre then. In the field of Handicrafts we hope that we can receive some funds to continue the Centre as in previous years and hope to find a way to avert closure.