Inspiration and Hope in Afghanistan

June 22, 2011 by

In 2002, shortly after the fall of the Taliban, BRAC initiated programs in Afghanistan. In the span of nine years of operations, BRAC has grown to become the country’s largest and most sustainable development organization employing over 3,000 people, 90% of whom are local Afghans and over 40% of whom are women.

This year BRAC has already disbursed over $21 million in microloans to 150,000 borrowers, over 80% of whom are women. Safia aged 32, for example, took out a BRAC small business loan for 70,000 Afghanis ($1,555) so she could improve her beauty shop in the Kabul neighborhood of Polisukhta. Safia had to ask permission from her husband to get the loan, but said her success had earned her more respect from him.

“When I got the money it helped me to do a lot of work in my shop,” said Safia, a mother of two. “I will be able to make an independent future.”

To date, 23,000 Afghans received capacity-building training at BRAC’s training center. In addition, BRAC Aghanistan focuses on educating and empowering youth through the Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents (ELA) and Education programs. Currently, 251 adolescent girls’ clubs are serving 6,800 girls, 1,100 schools are serving 34,000students. Success isn’t just in the numbers, it’s in the girls themselves. When BRAC USA President & CEO Susan Davis visited a BRAC school in Afghanistan, she met Sonia, an ambitious girl who unapologetically wants “to become a dancer … in New York.”

BRAC’s network of 6,900 Community Health Promoters (CHPs) provide essential health services to communities with a combined population of 6.3 million. Although Shaimais, a mid-wife in a town north of Kabul, was unable to achieve her childhood dream of becoming a doctor, she now administers ante and post natal care, family planning instruction and delivers babies. When asked what she likes best about her job as a BRAC CHP, she replies “When I help save the life of a baby or its mother, that is what makes me feel best of all.”

With the 10-year anniversary of Afhgan independence, BRAC’s work in the country has set a great leading example of South-South collaboration at work. BRAC’s work in Afghanistan is empowering individuals, particularily women, to create better futures for themselves, their families and their communities.