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Our Fight Against Gender-Based Violence

On December 11, 2018, Zardozi’s Executive Director, Ms. Homa Usmany represented Zardozi on the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) campaign organized by War Child Canada. Different national and international organizations such as World Bank, Relief International, GAC, and MoWA were invited to discuss about women rights, economic and social empowerment.

During the panel discussion, Ms. Usmany spoke about her struggles and achievements as an Afghan woman, who challenged the male-dominated society and facilitated more opportunities for impoverished Afghan women to fight domestic violence and poverty.

Ms. Homa Usmany stated that, “The challenges for women are universal, it might differ from context to context, but it is every woman’s story all around the world. As Afghan women we have to understand the context of our society, the sensitivity of our culture and the demands of our religion and if we understand these and set our own strategies accordingly, no one will dare to block our way to success.”  “That’s how I manage my personal and professional life, and proceed with my work,” she added.

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Know Mahtab

Mahtab comes from Shalbafan of Heart where she lived with her husband and two daughters. However, her drug addicted husband led Mahtab to separate from him, because living with him had caused her a major economic drawback. Mahtab’s husband would even sell most of home appliances to buy opium.

Once Mahtab decided to divorce him, her husband resisted to keep their children with him. Fearful of her husband’s bad habit which would leave a negative impact on the kids, Mahtab asked for help from her brother-in-law. He spoke with his brother and resolved the matter by giving the children back to her.

Mahtab learned about Zardozi’s work and attended some tailoring sessions. But, she could not extract much out of tailoring and the income could not cover all of her home’s bills and rents. The competition was high in the neighborhood while her income did not allow her to develop her business. She finally asked Zardozi to introduce her to an office or house which is safe for her to work as a cleaner. Getting the job at one of the offices, Mahtab started to earn enough to pay for majority of her expenses. She still sews clothes besides her full time job, when she needs more money.

“Being a single parent is not easy. You have to protect yourself and children from all kinds of challenges which arise for women in Afghanistan,” said Mahtab.

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Zardozi Volunteer Members helped Ali Chopan people to have asphalted roads

This winter, the Kadars, our volunteer members, have given us another opportunity to appreciate their work. They have once again helped their community to solve problems which otherwise would have been difficult without an influential person’s support and a collective effort of the village women.

Recently, in a far-fetched district of Mazara-e-Sharif, a group of women discussed some of the difficulties they face in their society. They complained about damaged streets in one of the Manbeh meetings. These meetings are usually used for problem solving sessions as well. The rough and bumpy streets in the Ali Chopan District of Mazar-e-Sharif had made public transportation difficult during the winter season.

The local people have lived with this problem for two winters but there has not been any government attention. The issue was finally brought up by the male leaders of the community. In order to accelerate the process, the men suggested channeling this issue through their women to Zardozi Volunteer Members. “The local people trust that we can do something, therefore they bring most of their problems to us,” said one of the Kadars.

Fatima, a beneficiary of Zardozi programs said, “Kadars provided literacy classes to us. They also spoke with the government to construct the main road and build a clinic for us. We were sure they will be able to help us again.”

With the right network and expertise, Kadars brought up this issue to Citizen Charter  in Mazar-e-Sharif. The Citizen Charter agreed to cover the cost by 70% and asked for 30% contribution from the people, which meant 10,000 AFN per each house. Because the poverty rate was high among the community members, they could not pay all at once.

They proposed the possibility of four installments over an agreed period of time. The Kadars went to the Citizen Charter with the proposal and they have started the road construction based on the agreement. Today, 50% of the job has been completed while 50% more will be constructed in the start of spring.

Mohammad Saleem, who is a resident of Ali Chopan, gave thanks to the Kadars. He acknowledged their services for the society and showed complete support for Zardozi’s work in the district.

Who are Kadars?

  • Kadars are Zardozi’s volunteer members who perform as Communication Bridge between Zardozi and Nisfe-Jahan’s offices.
  • They are involved in the implementation of Zardozi’s programs, services and activities in the four regions.
  • Zardozi provide several capacity building trainings including business administration to the Kadars in order to prepare them to become the building blocks of their societies and help community members particularly women to engage in civic activities.
  • Currently Zardozi has four to five Volunteer Members in each region it operates.


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Hameeda’s husband quit drugs because of her

Ms. Hameeda, a mother of 5 children, struggled through the hardships of helping her drug addict husband to recover, and to support her kids to live a better life. Hameeda’s life upended when she got married. Her husband would spend all of the home savings on buying drugs. She didn’t have enough money to afford meals let alone providing her children health care and an education. In 2014, when Hameeda started her journey with Zardozi, her first aim was to admit her husband to a rehabilitation center and cure his drug addiction.

“The only work that caught my eyes was tailoring. I thought I could excel my skills in this business area better. So I took some training and started to sew clothes for my neighbors and then slowly selling the clothes to near villages as well. I also received good orders from different shops with profitable prices,” says Hameeda.

Looking at her business experiences, profitability and operations method, Hameeda took the risk to do some investment. She bought readymade cloths and sold them to her relatives and villagers. She was surprised at making her life’s biggest amount of money on her own.

Hameeda also started to practice business the old way- exchanging clothes with goods. She says, “A lot of our people are poor; they could not afford my dresses. One day a friend asked me if she could exchange a dress for some fruits. This gave me an idea of selling my clothes both for cash and goods.” Bartering in her small village kept Hameeda’s business on track.

While telling us her story, Hameeda mentioned that one of the biggest achievements of her life was helping her drug addict husband to get well and stand firm beside her. Hameeda’s husband said, “I regret my bad habits, but now I want to make up for it. I help Hameeda in selling cereals, dried fruits and Qurot. Together we make very good profit from both sewing clothes and selling foodstuff which we get through bartering.”

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Donate to end domestic violence via business opportunities

We’re delighted to inform you that Zardozi has been given an exciting new opportunity!

On November 16, 2018, we submitted our project to the Global Giving Foundation who selected us to participate in its Accelerator – a fundraising opportunity for nonprofit organizations around the world.

In order to succeed, we must raise $5,000 from 40 donors by December 31st, 2018 which will be the last day of Accelerator. If we meet this threshold, we will be permanently featured on Global Giving’s website, where we have the potential to benefit from corporate relationships, exposure to a new donor network, and access to dozens of online fundraising tools.

Please help us achieve this target by donating and making your own contribution to bring a change in the lives of Afghan women.

We will also need your help to spread the wordPlease share this opportunity with your friends and family!

Click here to donate:

Thank you!

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Nooria’s first market experience beat her fears

“Zardozi took us out of darkness into light,” says 38 years old Zardozi client, standing in her booth at the exhibition as she repeatedly pass balls of dough through the Pasta machine thickening each dough to 2 mm and cutting it into 3 cm squares to make Ashak (an Afghan dish prepared on special occasions) – dumplings filled with leeks and sometimes meat. This is Nooria, a mother of two kids who found out about Zardozi five years ago when she was desperately looking for survival.

Today’s Nooria is a very different person. Her perspective about life is remarkable. “Five years ago, I didn’t know how to talk to people or how to find my way when commuting to bazar, because I had never stepped out of home without a male companion and they would do all the talking for me,” sighed Nooria. She added, “The first time I exchanged some words with a Non-Muhram man (a person who is not member of the family) was when a trainer from Zardozi introduced me to a male shopkeeper regarding an order for tailoring. I was very shy, my face turned red and I was constantly sweating. Right now, I am very happy that I can travel alone and don’t need someone to accompany me outside home.”

Nooria learned tailoring and embroidery – a skill that she knew little about and that would empower her later in life. She also started to cook special Afghani dishes and had a family member or shopkeepers to sell it for her. “I am very grateful to Zardozi’s trainers. Their guidance was always helpful.”

While talking about her life, Nooria believed that only women can save themselves from the miseries of their lives. She says, “Men don’t trust their women, because they think that women are weak and need their protection. But women should prove that they are brave. The outside world is not as scary as we have made it for ourselves.”

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How a water filter machine empowered Maryam

Exposed to relentless risk of terrorism, Afghans have to confront a second perilous problem – the acute shortage of clean water in the cities and villages. According to National Environment Protection Agency (NEPA), 70% of the underground water in Kabul is contaminated with bacteria and harmful chemicals which have put many lives at risk. Majority of the people, who do not have another option, consumes the unclean water, as a result of which residents suffer from various waterborne diseases.

In the rising quest for clean water, Zardozi’s client in Kabul, Ms. Maryam responsible for a 9-member family of lower class status started her private water business. After attending Zardozi Manbeh’s (Community Business Centers), Maryam found the courage to ask her husband to help her with her new business idea and plan. Maryam’s husband used to work in a private water supply company, therefore his help was vital to Maryam to run the business. Without any hesitation, Maryam and her husband bought the necessary equipments and filtering machines.

“I started this business because as citizen of this country, I felt obliged to have some contribution to the wellbeing of my people. But starting this business was also not far from risks, because we had to ensure the quality of the water and gain people’s trust. Plus the constant power outage is another challenge to overcome since most days of the month we are not able to supply the adequate amount of water; therefore we don’t earn much either,” says Maryam. However, Maryam is happy full filling her duties as a responsible citizen.

Maryam told us that her business does not run under a specific brand name, but she has built enough trust so that the neighborhood buys the water from her due to their urgent needs. Plus many of her neighbors buy her water, because it is cheaper than subscribing to a company. Gulmaki who is maryam’s neighbor says that ever since she has seen Maryam filtering impure water through the water purifiers, the water tastes fine and it is better than the water the district was getting from the wells.

Currently Maryam is able to support her daughter’s education who pursues to become a dentist. Maryam’s daughter told us about her mother, “I am able to get higher education because of my mother’s hard work. My father would have never been able to cover the education expenses of all of my siblings on his own.” Even though, the business does not profit the family to a larger extent, they are living happily together and are grateful about how much they earn.


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Zardozi staff bringing home success

Our employees are the building blocks of our organization with the help of whom we are able to stand firm and committed to our goals and objectives to change and prosper the lives of poor Afghan women. Today, we are celebrating the achievement of another remarkable member of Zardozi family, 21 years old Balqis Ehsan.

On Monday, September 24, 2018, ACBAR celebrated its 30th anniversary followed by #StoryOfAfghanistan Photo Exhibition and Contest. The contest took place between different NGOs whose photos were put forth for juries to decide on best photo award of the year.

We are delighted to announce that a photo captured by Balqis Ehsan has secured the first prize award which portrayed the true services of Zardozi among other organizations. The selected photo too illustrates the hard work of a working mother at a tailoring workshop.

Balqis Ehsan joined Zardozi as Communications and Outreach Officer in 2017. Ever since, we have observed an enormous growth in her capabilities as a determined employee. We are continually impressed by her results at work and wish her best of luck.

Zardozi take as much pride in the achievements of its female staff as much as it does in its male staff members.

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Zardozi Participated in Passage to Prosperity 2018

Zardozi presented eight of its best clients and their products in Passage to Prosperity: India-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Show in Mumbai, held on September 12-15, 2018.

Supported by US, Passage to Prosperity was initiated as a platform to boost economic ties between Afghanistan and India by connecting Indian investors and contractors with Afghan sellers and producers who displayed various kinds of products at the exhibition.

The event has been a great opportunity for both promoting Afghan products as they were shown noteworthy of greater value, and strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries who have historically enjoyed cooperation on different levels. Programs such as Passage to Prosperity are initial steps of economic prosperity for both countries since it will also expose Afghan products to international buyers.

“We were able to relatively attract many investors to our unique choice of designs, color combinations and great quality of hand embroidery. Some of our materials were sold at the expected price. Most importantly, women were acknowledged for their extraordinary skills and abilities,” exclaimed one of Zardozi clients.

Zardozi thanks FHI Goldozi for sponsoring the trip and cooperating with Zardozi for retaining contracts and orders from the contractors and investors at the event. We are also pleased to have found the opportunity to negotiate and sign business deals and establish new relationships with other Afghan companies for mutual work in Afghanistan.


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Ms. Nargis – the wedding photographer

Zardozi’s successful client in Kabul is a talented and multi-skilled 22-years-old Nargis who is the only girl child at her home. Unlike the old parents, Nargis’s parents have always felt fortunate to have a daughter. Therefore, they have raised Nargis with much love and allowed her to complete her education and pursue a career of her interest.

Inspired by her mother who is Zardozi’s Kadar, Nargis became interested in joining Zardozi to learn tailoring. She came to Zardozi in 2015. Thereafter, Nargis excelled in her tailoring and business skills and supported her mother with maintaining the financial situation of the family. “My goal was not limited to tailoring only. Difficult economic circumstances led me to explore more skills so besides tailoring I also started a cooking course from my trainer at Zardozi. I also relied on some trainings outside Zardozi.” Being a fast learner, Nargis finished her 5-months cooking training and was soon able to cook Italian and Afghani food in an office affiliated to Italians.

Moving between different careers, Nargis’s mother says, “Nargis is very ambitious and loves change. I believe she will never become jobless, because she has worked in different fields which will enable her to switch jobs when necessary.”

Interestingly, Nargis has currently started a new business. Suggested by her friends, she learned photography and filming from a photo production company called “Pazhang” while also seeking help from Zardozi’s expert staff. Observing her enthusiasm, Nargis got hired by the same company as wedding photographer. “I earn 2,000 Afs for every wedding party that I photograph. I learn new things every day and make good connections and close ties with different families. I am planning to have my personal production company. While it is an interesting profession, it is not perceived respectable by many people,” says Nargis as disappointment covered her eyes.

But she ambitiously added that she wanted to change this trend and make it a female-dominated field, because according to her, women are more useful in this field since the bride opens up to a female photographer easily and not all Afghan families are comfortable with a male photographer to capture their private moments or to go inside a bride’s green room.