By Maryam Waheed
In 2002, some families migrated from Pakistan to Afghanistan. At that time, the President of Afghanistan was Hamid Karzai. Everyone was happy, thinking that the new president would welcome them all back into their homeland, Afghanistan.
Among these migrant families, one was Salma’s. Salma was twenty-two at that time. She had three children. She lived with her husband in an old muddy house in a district in Kandahar. She had completed her high school in Pakistan.
Salma’s family faced a lot of economic problems. She wasn’t able to pay the rent for her house, or even bear the expenses of running a house. She had a tough time trying to feed her children. Before they migrated, her husband was in the army. He was an officer, and getting a job in the army again required him to write an exam. Finally, he passed the exam, and then, had to study for four months before he could get a job. His wife was jobless too, so until they got secure jobs, they needed money to feed their children and pay rent. After a lot of discussion, they decided that Salma should work to earn for her family. She went out of home to find a job.
Salma’s oldest daughter helped take care of her two siblings so that Salma could work. With time, Salma found an office called Abitat, where she requested to be given a job. “I want to work for my family! I need to work for the bright future of my family because I have economic problems.” They then recommended that to another office. After an interview, they hired her. She worked there for four months. Every office has a contract for a fixed time, and her work with the office helped her assist many government and non-governmental organizations such as USAID, TEAR FUND, OXFAM, SAVE THE CHILDREN, SIKA SOUTH and many others of a similar kind. Her professional experience spanned over fourteen years. She held different positions such as Gender Officer, M&N Officer, Social Organizer, Field Protection Officer and Facilitator.
Over time, she had interacted with many communities. She worked with the single minded goal of wanting to help Afghan women, to develop their knowledge and help their children have a shot at a bright future. She also earned a significant number of hours in trainings and workshops that helped advance her knowledge and hone her skills. Over all, Salma had worked in and acquired skills in the fields of health education, gender sensitization, human rights, and advocacy capacities. She went to India for trainings.
Salma’s journey had many challenges. She faced many problems. Once she gave an interview to the RDUP South Office, Though her interview was received well, she didn’t get the job because she didn’t know English and computers. They told her that she had to report in English, and since she didn’t know the language, they couldn’t hire her. After that, she became hopeless. She said to herself that she knew only Pashto and Dari and that she couldn’t do much with it. She wanted to study English and Computers. She did not get defeated by her circumstances, and decided to learn English and Computers in the KIMS center. Now, Salma is pretty good at both, English and Computers!
She really appreciates Mr. Ehasanullah Ehasan, the head of KIMS. Salma is very thankful to him for giving her and other women like her the opportunity to study and evolve. Salma tells her children, today, that it is their turn to be educated and to seek higher education and opportunities after that. She did not want her children to be like she was in her growing years. Salma says that she couldn’t afford education in Afghanistan, but is grateful to Mr Ehsanullah Ehsan for recommending her older daughter to the Pax Populi programme. Now, Salma’s daughter Maryam learns English from one of the tutors at Pax Populi. Salma is especially thankful to Mr. Robert Mc Nulty
Maryam adds that she really loves her mother. “She is easily among the very strong women in all of Afghanistan! I really respect her for all that she has done for us. I am really proud of my mother! She is the best!”