Business owner and civil society leader
Hassina Sherjan, is a successful Afghan business woman and civil society leader, has dedicated most of her life to her beloved country Afghanistan and the women that live there. Hassina states, “I fulfilled my dream of contributing to the rebuilding of my country”. She accomplished this by establishing the Aid Afghanistan for Education and the Boumi Company.
Hassina was born and raised in Afghanistan. She left Afghanistan at age 19 due to the Russian Invasion. Hassina with her family, fled the country, and after months of waiting for a visa, the family settled in SeattleWashington. In 2009, Hassina received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Queen’s University in Canada. In 2011 she graduated from HarvardUniversity’s Kennedy School of Governance with a MPA degree. Hassina is the co-author of “Toughing It Out in Afghanistan” published in 2011.
Hassina has over two decades of knowledge and experience in education, business and journalism. In 1999, she established Aid Afghanistan for Education. AAE’s mission is to unlock the potential of young marginalized Afghans through education as a means to prepare them to fully participate in the society.
AAE schools change lives. Siddiqa, a graduate from Khash District, is a great example of this. As a child Siddiqa was eagerly interested in learning. Given her passion for education she managed to successfully finish school up to grade ten. Like many other girls in Afghanistan, an early-arranged marriage prevented Siddiqa from further pursuing her education.
For Siddiqa, married life was mired by poverty, shattering her dreams of pursuing her education. Not having finished high school, Siddiqa’s many attempts to find a job to alleviate her family from extreme poverty failed. Therefore, with her husband’s consent, Siddiqa joined the AAESchool in Daynow village.
After graduation, Siddiqa was hired by an NGO, earning a salary of 17,000 Afs ($US 340) a month. Not only has she been able to help her family escape extreme poverty; she plans to run in the next parliamentary elections to represent her community at the national level.
Over the years, AAE has had tremendous impact directly and indirectly on the women and men of Afghanistan. The NGO has grown from serving 250 students to 3,104 students. It has also had a direct positive impacted on 12,000 family members in nine provinces, like Siddiqa’s family.
In 2012, 96 students from three schools in Kabul and 44 students from Badakhashan graduated from AAE programs and went on to attend higher levels of education (public and private universities).
As well as her work with AAE, Hassina is owner and chief executive officer of Boumi, an internationally recognized woman owned home accessory business. Boumi manufactures and distributes products for the home such as curtains, cushion covers, tea cosies, coasters, bedclothes, and bathroom accessories. Boumi, which means indigenous in Farsi, aims to create jobs and technical skills in Afghanistan, especially for women, based on traditional Afghan designs and using only locally grown cotton. Boumi took a step further to provide Afghans with technical skill and design training so that its employees may use the knowledge and experience gained for their own possible commercial endeavours in the future.
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