Sunday, October 18, 2009

Room to read

One of the shortlisted businesses in World Challenge 2009 is Afghan Hands, run by Matin Maulawizada, whose family escaped to the USA during the Soviet invasion in the 1980s. It employs women who have been widowed by the last few years of conflict and gives them an income embroidering designs for an American fashion house, as well as teaching them literacy and numeracy.

The joy and excitement on these women's faces, as they look at pictures from western magazines showing what they've embroidered, with their names sewn into every piece, and the pride they take in their work, is truly moving. One of them talks of hearing of her husband being taken into the desert by the Taliban, never to return. This is a wonderful project; if it wins World Challenge (and you can help by voting for it), Matin plans to buy permanent premises in Kabul and to offer more women the chance to learn to read, use their skills and earn some money.

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