AIL recently received an update from Hafisa, a young woman that had taken classes at a Women’s Learning Center in rural Herat, Afghanistan. As a teenage girl, Hafisa began going to the WLC in her village where she became literate and learned to sew. In all of her classes, the teachers talked about human rights, peace, health and leadership, emphasizing that anyone can be a leader, even if in a small way.
After graduating from the center, Hafisa was married and moved away. Hafisa’s sewing skills quickly made her popular in her new village with many people bringing her dresses for sewing. Soon, people in the village began asking her to open a center and teach other women to sew. Hafisa remembered the leadership lessons she learned at the AIL WLC in her village and knew that she could start a class.
Starting a center to teach women to sew is a fairly novel concept. At first, her family ignored the requests, but due to community persistence, Hafisa’s family eventually allowed her to open a center in her home. Now she uses one room of her house to teach a sewing class and has 40 students. She collects a fee from the students, and this income has helped to change her family’s economic situation. She is respected in her community and her family is proud of her. Whenever she goes to her own village to see her parents, she visits the AIL center and thanks AIL for giving her the opportunity to be a useful person in her community. Not only did Hafisa learn to sew, she learned to be a leader and found that she could run a self-sufficient center.
Some of the stories AIL hears from women are about little things that make a big difference for the individual woman. We have one such example from a woman studying literacy in one of AIL’s centers. When asked if she had a particularly happy memory that came from learning to read, she replied, “Yes. Before I would go places and could not read anything, but now I can. I went to the doctor with my sister-in-law and I read the name of the doctor for her. There was a woman there who could not read and asked me if I knew which doctor was the heart doctor. I read the board with the names of the doctors until I found the heart doctor and guided the woman to the correct doctor. She prayed for me. I was very happy and it is an unforgettable memory for me.”
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