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.
A student of one of AIL’s centers says, “When I came to this center, I was hopeless because I was not sure that I could learn to sew, and wanted to learn so that I could support my family with this skill. My father died and my mother works in a rich man’s house as a cleaner. She leaves each day at 6:00 am and comes back home at 7:30 pm. Day by day, with my interest and effort and my teacher encouraging me, I learned to sew. Finally I reached a high enough level that my teacher helped me to market my skills and introduced me to her customers. The customers bring me materials for sewing and I charge them for sewing clothes from these materials. Through my business I can support my family. I must thank AIL for providing this opportunity for women who are poor and do not have much education.”