“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.”