Afghan women are hunted by child and forced marriages. Twenty-three years old Samia was also not able to escape this cruel destiny which put her in despair and agony. Like many parents who sold their daughters for money, Samia’s father too gave her in marriage to a shopkeeper who had lent a lot of money to her father.
In a failed attempt to get out of his debt, Samia was forced to get engaged at the age of 13.
“I grew up hating my father and all men. A 13 years old child didn’t deserve this; nobody does,” she sobbed. Samia has gone through some of the most painful days of her life. One of it was giving birth to her first child when she was only 14 years old. After a while, her husband started to behave differently. He would not go to home all day and night and upon arrival, he would beat her and the children. Samia realized that he spends most of his time sitting with drug addicts and smoking Hashish. “I was informed by my family that he slept under ruined bridges and in destructed buildings,” said Samia. She explained that despite all her efforts to save his life and to do his treatment through the money she borrowed from the neighbors, he could not be cured.
“The next worse thing was that it was not only my husband who became a drug addict but he also dragged my brother into this disaster. None of them have any clue about what we suffer every day.”
Left alone with 4 children, Samia had to take care of everything. She and her 9 year old son begun to earn little money from working at people’s houses as servants while her son would collect cans and bottles from garbage to sell.
Samia was introduced to Zardozi by family support center of a hospital in Herat. Her trainers described her as a woman of strong will when she first came to Zardozi office. After regularly attending the trainings, Samia learned about different stories of women who had confronted their fears, challenged their families and defeated the wrong traditions as they established their mini businesses. Looking up to all these women, she urged to open her own beauty parlor.
Zardozi enrolled Samia as trainee at one of the beauty salons next to her home. When she was finally ready to start her own business, she lacked the necessary equipment and materials. Therefore, Zardozi clients cooperated with Samia as each woman donated their makeup kits and beauty products until she was able to make good money and open a shop outside her home.
Samia acknowledged, “Zardozi became my new family. The women in Manbeh were like sisters to me and I can never thank them enough for always supporting me and lifting me up. Here are many women like me who have good lives and all of this would not be possible without Zardozi.”