After COVID-19 spread across Afghanistan, many, including Kimya’s eldest son, a rental driver, lost their jobs. However, a greenhouse the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) helped her to build has enabled their family to weather the pandemic. Of the 6,000 tomato seedlings produced through the greenhouse, Kimya sold half to support her family’s needs (in the spirit of community philanthropy, she gave the other half to neighbours who could not afford to buy the seedlings).
Kimya lives in Baghlan, Afghanistan. In 2017, a Canadian-supported programme helped her build a low-cost greenhouse, which enabled her to feed her family with the vegetables she produced and supplement the family income from the sale of excess crops and seedlings. “This programme has enabled me to cope with these new problems, and helped my family cope,” she says.
But coping with the pandemic was not enough for the entrepreneurial Kimya. She noticed that when she went back to buy more masks for her children, she noticed the prices had gone up exponentially. She realised she could not afford to keep buying them.
So she went to work. Using some of her earnings from selling the seedlings from her greenhouse, Kimya bought raw materials and started stitching masks at home.
“The masks in the market are very expensive and disposable, but the masks I produce are cheap, and can be washed and reused,” she says.
Her masks sell for AFN 10 (around US$ 0.14 cents) -- about five times cheaper than the disposable ones in the market. On top of earning extra income for her family, Kimya has also provided 300 free masks for people who could not afford them.
While the pandemic has placed added stress and burden on many women like Kimya, it has also highlighted the important role they play in their families and their communities.
Learn more about the Afghanistan Women’s Empowerment Programme on the Aga Khan Foundation Canada website by clicking here.
This text was adapted from a story published on the AKF Canada website.