Disabled and Working in Afghanistan

“Disability is not an obstacle in my life. I will fulfill all of my wishes despite my disability,” vows Rahima, 22, a tailor in Farah Province.

Rahima is from a poor family of seven sisters, two brothers and kind parents. She was only two years when she became disabled, unable to stand on one foot.

“I did not know what happened to my daughter’s foot. I did not vaccinate her. Twenty-two years ago we did not have information and in that time there was not this opportunity,” said her mother, Malalai. “At first we did not take her to the doctor because of lack of information. I just took my daughter to some local women who claimed they knew how to fix some health problems. But every day it became worse.”

Unable to walk, Rahima often stayed home because she was too shy. Still, she never gave up. She attended sewing classes in Farah run by international agencies and learned how to sew clothes. After a short time, she became a tailor, and was soon sewing for women of Farah.

Every day Rahima visits about six women whose clothing she sews. “I make clothes for 100 Afghanis (about $2) and each day I can make 10 USD. I can support my family and I can take care of my own needs. I am happy to have this skill today. I do not need to ask money from others. I pay all my own expenses,” Rahima says.

Her life changed even more when Red Crescent provided an opportunity for her to receive treatment for her foot. Several years ago she moved to Kabul and received medical treatment for two months. After an operation, her foot became much straighter. Doctors say she might have had polio as a young child.

“The day I got out of hospital, I felt better when I was getting up,” Rahima said. “My foot felt better. I was very glad and I felt as if I was in the sky. However, I still am not able to walk as others do.” Rahima cannot walk as fast as healthy people and has to force her foot to move. But she is happy with the improvement.

Rahima attended school until eighth grade and is able to write and read, but her family did not allow her to continue her education due to traditional views. She is nevertheless optimistic for Afghanistan’s future. She voted in the second round of Afghanistan’s election. Because of her disability, it took her 30 minutes to get to the nearest polling station and she says she hopes the new government of Afghanistan will pay more attention to the needs of the disabled.

“I am very delighted that this time I am able to vote because in last election I was not 18 years and I could not vote,” she says. “I participated in the election because this is my job.”

By Seeta

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6 responses to “Disabled and Working in Afghanistan

  1. Another great piece, Seeta. Rahmina is an inspiration, as are you. Keep talking to people and sharing their stories. And if you’re so inclined, share yours, too!

  2. And learn from my mistakes: don’t forget to proofread. If I had proofread my response, I would have caught that the correct spelling is Rahima 🙂

  3. Another great reporting job, Seeta! This an inspirational story and you did a wonderful job of telling it giving the reader a little window into the world of this strong young woman. Bravo to you both!

  4. What an amazing quote at the beginning – how much we take things for granted! Fantastic, Seeta!

  5. The woman in this story is a true inspiration and the same can be said for the many nameless, faceless Afghani women who endure all kinds of challenges with strength and compassion.

    Thank you for sharing this story.

  6. Seeta
    Laura is so right. You have a great ear for quotes. I am looking forward to more stories and poems, too. How terrific that you are able to go back and forth between poetry and journalism and tell searing tales in both forms. Barbara

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