Stories from Afghanistan
One woman goes to great lengths to help her community in Afghanistan
Fewer places are more remote than the villages tucked into the sweeping mountains which frame Afghanistan’s Central Highlands.
To reach these communities, Medair’s team must frequently travel across treacherous terrain, over high and narrow mountain passes, through deep river valleys, and often on foot when the road ends.
Yet in the winter months, heavy snow makes the mountain passes inaccessible, cutting off these communities from the outside world for months at a time. Families are left to rely on whatever they have been able to grow or gather over the summer months, hoping that the food lasts until the warm weather returns.
It rarely does.
Medair is working in these communities with women like Rahima*, a behaviour-change and kitchen-garden promoter, to ensure families have the skills and knowledge to flourish in every season.
Rahima teaches other women not only how to build and maintain a kitchen garden near their homes, but also on the importance of consuming nutritious food.
"I go from house to house teaching women about these issues" Rahima.
“This is quite difficult sometimes as some of the villages are very far from my house. But I see the impact it has, so it is worth it.”
Kamela, a participant of the kitchen garden programme shares how having a kitchen garden of her own has impacted the well-being of her family:
“This was the first year that we had that many vegetables available. We did not have to buy tomatoes, squash, lettuce, cabbage, and other things. They came from our own kitchen garden. We used to only have one kind of food, but now we have more variety, which is helping to keep our family strong and healthy. They are no longer so weak and frequently ill.”
For women like Parwana, another participant of the kitchen garden programme, snowy winter months make markets inaccessible and vegetables are hard to come by.
“In the winter we used to only eat bread and drink tea. There was no variety. That was the only thing we had,” she says.
Through Rahima’s training, Parwana was not only able to grow her own vegetables, but she learned techniques for drying them so they could last during winter, ensuring a healthy diet during the cold months too.
When asked about her favourite part of her role, Rahima says, “I like to teach the topic of hygiene the most, because a lot of people don’t know about it. It makes me very happy when I see people change their behaviours and start living a healthier life. For example, people did not know to wash their hands after going to the toilet and before cooking, so they were often ill and did not know why.”
Rahima and the other health promoters have many more villages in the Central Highlands to reach to educate the women on the benefits of kitchen gardening and hygienic practices.
If you’d like to partner with them to support more women like Parwana and Kamela and their families in tough times, please consider making a gift towards our Women and Children’s Fund. Each gift is a seed of hope that bears fruit in the lives of those living in some of the most isolated and often forgotten communities in the world.
This month, we are ‘cooking up’ something extra for our supporters – a culinary challenge!
Are you familiar with Afghan cuisine? If not, try out one of these recipes to get a taste of the local cuisine and let us know you did it by tagging us on social media @MedairInt.
*Names have been changed for reasons of security.