It’s never mattered what I’ve wanted. A mentally disabled husband. His abusive family. The murdering of our children. My life has been filled with endless torture and pain.
I wanted to go to school. I wanted to get a job. I wanted to live safely and independently. But in our family no one cared. No one has ever cared.
Husbands attacked wives. Sons beat their mothers. In-laws abused in-laws. My mother-in-law killed my youngest while still inside me. My brother-in-law beat his nephew—my son—to death with a gun. Another used his fists to forever silence my young daughter. And I saw, heard and felt it all.
A neighbor found out what happened to me and offered her home with the promise of living like sisters. But from the moment I arrived, I was treated like a slave. I had been welcomed into another prison. One day—when no one was watching—I escaped with only the scarf on my head. I encountered the Human Rights Commission through the kindness of a stranger and eventually was directed to a shelter where I found my first safe place to live.
When I arrived, I didn’t speak. All I felt was pain and emptiness. I was so ashamed of what had happened to me. And I hated myself for it.
Then one day, I felt interest rising in my heart. Life returned to my body as I learned about Hagar’s Empowering Women for Economic Participation Program (EWEP). I received training on employability skills like teamwork, problem-solving and self-management and when I was finished, I even got a job interview. I was hired by a local milk and cheese factory and have begun putting my life back together.
I realize now that I don’t have to hate myself because of what happened to me—that it’s alright for me to heal and that it’s alright for me to begin again. A good life is all I’ve ever really wanted.
Over these last months, EWEP has supported Zarifa and encouraged her to participate in additional trainings offered. Throughout her career counselling sessions, she has begun to open her heart to the idea of new experiences and new opportunities. She is beginning to believe that she has value and that the violence that was perpetrated upon her does not define her. She has started to communicate with others in the shelter and has given herself permission to learn and to grow—past the trauma, past the hell, and past the pain that threatened to steal her future. She’s choosing life. And for us, seeing Zarifa find full life is the whole reason we do what we do.
When you support this project -- Transform Lives of Afghanistan's Most Forgotten -- you bring hope and better futures to more women like Zarifa.