21 NOVEMBER 2011 | KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN
When Amir Ahmad was a child, he picked up an unexploded Soviet grenade, thinking it was a toy. He doesn’t remember the explosion. In the twenty years since then, he’s adapted to living without hands. He can hold a pen and write a letter. He can pour a cup of tea and ride a motorbike. However, he’s never been able to make a living, relying instead on the support of his family.
Amir is one of dozens of disabled Afghans participating in a USAID capacity-building course in home garden production. The training provides them with skills to become self-reliant members of society.
Each morning they arrive at the training center in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, some in wheelchairs, others on crutches. They participate in classroom training where they learn advanced horticultural techniques. Later, they go to the demonstration plot where they pick up shovels and practice what they’ve learned.
“Today we’re learning how to build a home nursery using low tunnels,” Amir says, bracing a shovel under his arm and deftly maneuvering it with the stumps of his arms.
USAID projects create a more stable society by ensuring that households in volatile areas have the means to generate stable incomes. Many of the participants were farmers before they were injured. The skills they learn will enable them to create income-generating gardens on small plots of land.
Amir has a half-jerib plot adjoining his family home. With one part of the land, he plans to raise vegetable saplings for sale to local plant wholesalers. On the remaining land, he’ll plant tomatoes and melons for his family. “I can’t do everything,” he admits. “I will need some help, especially when it comes time to harvest. But, I can now see myself becoming a businessman. These are skills I can pass along to my children.”
Last updated: January 03, 2014