How one woman’s tenacity enabled her to overcome adversity and help others
25 AUGUST 2013 | JALALABAD, AFGHANISTAN
When times are tough, Nafas Gul Bakhtanai shows exceptional toughness. Forced to flee Afghanistan on account of the Taliban, she worked in a shoe factory in Pakistan. Returning to Jalalabad 12 years later, she refused to be disheartened by the fact that jobs were scarce and her husband could not support their family of nine. Instead, Nafas scraped the money together to buy 14 kilos of wheat. She turned it into farina, selling the cereal to put food on the table.
Her tenacity paid off. Today, Nafas owns two small business ventures and is planning a third. With support from USAIDS’s Afghanistan Workforce Development Program (AWDP), she is also helping to train other women.
Nafas’s painting company is teaching 20 women how to paint houses, Venetian plasterwork, sponging and stenciling. She expects to hire the trainees once the course is over.
The USAID support is part of a scheme that links private companies with potential employees. Nearly 2,000 women are being trained; more than 200 have already secured jobs or promotions.
“Painting is a lucrative profession,” says Nafas, and many Afghan government institutions can provide work – and a suitable environment – for women.