“I am not alive, but I am not dead,” whispered Khadija. Khadija, a 23-year old Afghan woman, set herself on fire after losing all hope, due to an abusive arranged marriage. She was “sold” as a young 15 year old girl for $3,400, to support her impoverished family.
Khadija was admitted to the burn unit of Herat Hospital, where she received treatment as she recovered from both her physical and emotional wounds. Her husband had been put in jail temporarily for abuse, but her in-laws had taken control of her son. They gave her an ultimatum – if she told the police she had lied about her husband and came home, she would see her son again. However, if she refused, she would be forced to cut ties with him.
Khadija and women like her, do have advocates to help them. Hassina Nikzad, a graduate of Morning Star’s Institute for Leadership Development, is now an internationally known women’s rights activist, and helps Khadija and other women like her with legal and social opportunities.
“We’re all handcuffed in this country,” Khadija cried. Khadija had no choice in marriage, children, education and even life. She, and other Afghan women like her, are not educated–thus they are dependent on husbands or fathers to support them.
There is an urgent need for Afghan women to be educated and equipped, so they can begin to take back control of their own lives and personal welfare.
Introducing LaBBS (Literacy and Basic Business Skills for Women)
LaBBS is a one year course for low-literate women to equip them to start their own small local businesses. Our goal is to train 80 women annually so that they can increase their level of financial freedom. Creating small businesses for women not only brings self confidence and dignity, but is also helps them to become more valued and respected members of their communities. It is also vital for women to produce some family income as most of this income goes back into caring for their children’s education and nutrition.
LaBBS will have oversight by one of our veteran expat staff and be administered by one of our female alumni of our Institute for Leadership Development program. Together, we plan to see poverty decrease locally as well as empowerment for women who desperately seek hope from their limited position.