Support Association for the Women of Afghanistan, help Afghan women, literacy, education

Students at the Vocational Training Centre

We were hesitant to ask the women at the Centre to talk about their experiences, fearing that this would open old wounds. But when Latifa, the Centre's director, asked the students after the first semester who would be prepared to show their achievement by writing about themselves, over 50 women volunteered. Here are four of their stories, written in October 2009, followed by two personal stories provided at the graduation function of 2014.

SurayaSuraya Gulam Bahlol

I am a mother of four children. I went through the world blind before participating in this course. I had a lot of economic problems; our insecure situation and other family problems made me sad and sick. I was nervous all the time as these problems effected me a lot and I considered myself a person who is not psychologically normal, because most of the time I was sad and thinking that I hate my children, I hate my husband, and I didn’t want to talk with other people. All the time we were fighting for nothing, but since I have come to the literacy course I am completely okay. I am thankful to OPAWC who saved me from the darkness of my life. Before coming to this course my life was going to ruin, but now I have changed completely, I have learnt that I must not be hopeless, I must look after my children carefully, I must behave with my husband well – I am an educated woman now, an educated woman that must solve the problems she faces and find the right way for solving them. I have learned a lot of things, I can prevent my children from being affected from different diseases, as we have a subject about health and I have learned several things.

Before joining this course I was just a blind woman, I didn’t know anything about health and other issues. I remember once my baby was very sick and I knew that the medicine was for fever so I gave it to her, but after a while she started vomiting because the medicine had expired and I gave it to her because I could not read it; but now I check the date of the medicine first and than give it to her.

I am thankful to the leadership of OPAWC, who takes care of us and provides us with all the needs of the course like stationery including books, notebooks, pen, pencil, rubber, ruler, and whiteboards on which we can write easily.

I ask OPAWC to continue this course and arrange similar activity for us to keep us busy and to prevent women with many problems like myself from falling into sickness.

NafisaNafisa Nor Allah

When I was at home and saw girls of my age going to school and wearing uniform I was sad and unpleased, and a lot of questions arose in my mind – why am I not going to school though I am of the same age as they, I also want to study, to wear uniform like others; I wished I had classmates with whom I could share my ideas and secrets, but I was deprived of all this. When I asked my mother: "Why am I not going to school?" she said: "My daughter, we are a poor family, school is far away from our house and we can’t pay for your transportation". So, for a few days I was thinking of this problem why we are poor, than I found out that it is because there has been war in our country and everything had been destroyed and my father can't work in a peaceful environment, he can't have work because he is illiterate. For these reasons I have been deprived of education.

But since I have come to the literacy course provided by OPAWC I have achieved my desires, I can read magazines, newspaper, anything I wish, I have friends here, they are girls of my age and old women like my mother, I am happy. I remember, at the beginning of the course I saw that most of my classmates were sick. They bought one or two prescription medicines, but by passage of time they became busy with learning and now all of them are okay and happy.

Thank you so much for this humanitarian action, to arrange this course for us and equip us with all the needs of the course. I ask OPAWC to continue this course and if possible arrange some English courses too, because we like and wish to learn English as well but we are unable to pay for the private course. Similarly if possible teach us to work in a beauty parlour, because it produces a good income in Afghanistan, so that we can help and support our family financially.

MaryamMaryam Shamem

I want to write a few lines about the nature of the literacy course and about what I have achieved from it.

I have waited for a long time to become educated. It disturbed me in any meeting or party when there was an issue about education. I remember once I received news that women can be paid who can teach the beginners, at that time I had nothing at home to feed my children, though I am a widow and responsible for the children, it was the hardest time, it was the time I find the need for education and said to myself: Oh my God! I hoped I was educated.

But that is about the past, now I am not that one any more, I have changed, I have become an educated woman, I can work as a teacher though I am a teacher at home, I teach my children. All these events come to me from OPAWC, they provide us with everything we need for the course, and they serve us and see how the teachers teach and how the course progresses.

I hope that this course will be continued so that I can learn more and become educated completely and able to work as a teacher in schools and solve the financial problems I am facing now.

TubaTuba Nesar Ahmad, from Ghazni province, now living in Kabul

My story is a sad one. When I was a small girl I lost my mother, so I was supposed to take care of all responsibilities in the house and look after my younger brother and sisters. My father and my brother didn’t let me go to school, this was the reason I remained illiterate. Soon I was married and had children. But one thing which always disturbed me was education, I was so interested and eager to become an educated woman. OPAWC's light flashes before my eyes, I became aware that a literacy course had been established near my house where I can fulfill my desire. Soon I went and entered my name among other women‘s names, I enquired about the rules and conditions, and felt that I can attend this course and learn and still look after my children at the same time.

Now about 7 months have passed and I have learned a lot, I am able to read and write and can help my children.

I am thankful to OPAWC for helping poor and forlorn women like me, and arrange everything we need and ask OPAWC to continue this course and arrange similar activities for us, because I want to learn as I had been longing to do for a long time.

The following two students told their life stories at the 2014 graduation ceremony when they received their Merit Certificates.

MarziaMarzia (with OPAWC director Latifa Ahmady on the right)

Marzia talked at the 2014 graduation function and everyone was sad to hear her story. Marzia is 35 years old and lost her husband during the civil war of 1992-1994. After the death of her husband she was under much pressure which caused her to become disabled; her hands and feet became frozen. Marzia has no children and lives at her brother’s home. The brother is unemployed; he sells vegetables occasionally at shops. Marzia told the function that after losing her husband and the use of her hands and feet she thought that her life had come to an end.

When OPAWC staff surveyed the suburb to recruit students for the literacy course they met Marzia in her bad condition. When they started talking to her she just cried, nothing else. The staff encouraged her and promised to take her away from all her miseries. Marzia refused to come to classes, being disabled; but later she changed her mind and agreed.

Since she joined the class Marzia has changed completely. She is unable to stand in front of the white board and write on it, so OPAWC provided her with a small board on which she can practice sitting in her own chair.

Now Marzia is not alone any more, she is educated and a teacher at home. She teaches her nephews, she is happy now. She expressed her happiness and deepest thanks to her staff, to OPAWC and to the foreign supporters. She said: "You saved me and my life, may God save you all. We poor widow women need your support, your light to throw on our ways and carry us out of darkness."

OPAWC presented Marzia with a gift along with her Merit Certificate; she was smiling and happy to receive the result of her hard work.


I am a widow; my husband was martyred while a rocket hit my home during the fundamentalists’ war [civil war, 1992-1994]. It was in the first year of my marriage. I had a two months old son at the time. Being illiterate I worked hard, did every kind of work just to support my son, in order not let my son feel the lack of his father. With my hard work, washing, cleaning, I was able to send my son to school. He completed his education and became a university teacher recently.

I am a woman who is familiar with hard work. I joined OPAWC's courses 12 months ago; I was eager to learn. Now I have completed my literacy and handicraft classes. As I am so very much interested in learning OPAWC introduced me to "Vital Literacy" and I participated in an examination. I was so excited to know that I passed and can progress to grade 8.

After receiving my Merit Certificate I will continue my education there. I just want to tell my other sisters, learn from me, don’t allow sorrows to destroy your life any more, your life has been destroyed already, so try to find a way to get rid of all these sorrows and miseries.

Thank you so much OPAWC and all supporters, you lightened my way. I would have had to continue my washing and cleaning in other houses, but now I am on my own feet, I am sure I will complete my schooling and become a university teacher.