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Carpets as future livlihood for Afghan women

in Afghan Business

Carpets as future livlihood for Afghan women

women carpet weavingIn the courtyard of a house in Arbad Jalil located in the Takhar province, two big metal frames stand firm. On the second floor, there is yet another frame. By one of those frames, five women work in unison, and at their hands, a complicated pattern made from cotton is slowly coming to life. One of these women is 25-year old Hanifa. She is a widow and a mother of three boys, between the ages one to five.

-I want to learn this profession so that I can provide for my children in the future, she says.

The two sons, Farhad age one and Farhid age five, are playing together with a group of other kids not far away from their mother. The second eldest brother Fahim, who is currently two years old, is still at home with Hanifas’s parents in law.

The class is run by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan’s local organization of cooperation; Afghanistan Development and Assistance Organization, ADAO. This is the second carpet project that ADAO is running together with SAK.

-We are trying to teach the women both craftsmanship and at the same time connect them to the market. Our hope and goal with this, is that after their education is completed, they should be able to weave carpets in the manner in which they have been taught, and in that way contribute to the providing of their families, says Farid Ahmad, who is the executive at ADAO in Taloqan.

This project focuses mainly on the most exposed people in society, like widowed women trapped in poverty, or people with disabilities. With the help of the village councils, women were selected. Most of them do not know each other and we hope that through their new experiences and acquaintances, they will form their own cooperation and continue to weave carpets together.

The progress of the carpets is slow and the women are very precise. Hanifa chooses material from her box of yarn, there is a selection of colors; red, brown and yellow. She ties the knots at a fast rate. Together they are going to form a yellow flower right in the center of the carpet. Guided by her doctor and the pattern sheet lying in front of her, the women learn the ancient craft of carpet weaving.

-I live in the house of my parents in law and there we have a spare room that we use to weave carpets.

Haji Abdul Kabir is the head of the practical work, together with his wife. They have over thirty years of experience of doing this sort of work. The carpets that the women weave will take about six months to complete.

– When they are finished with the carpets, I will head to Kunduz together with a representative for the women, to sell the carpets. The earnings will be split between them so they can buy fresh cotton. The weaving frames will be shared amongst the women, he says.



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