Miss Asma, 16, lives in Badakhshan province, in north-eastern Afghanistan. She was a trainee of basic literacy and skill development classes under Enhancement of Literacy in Afghanistan (ELA) programme. She has successfully completed a 9-month literacy course three years ago, which included basic literacy and numeracy skills, as well as tailoring classes, for the outstanding literacy graduate learners.

It is true that most Afghans suffer from poverty, but there are not many like Asma who has lost her father at the age of 4 and also suffers from a birth-illness which affects her normal physical activities. Her mother became the sole bread-winner and supporter of Asma and her two younger brothers.

Asma explains, My mother tries hard to make end our problems and take care of me and my brothers. One of my brothers is affected by polio and this has made our problems even worse.

Her mother, who is illiterate, did whatever she could to raise her children, such as working in a school as a cleaner.

“I have always had the dream to help my mother. I was taking care of home chores, but wanted to do more, to help her in meeting the daily expenses,” told Asma.

Asma came closer to her dream in bringing home income under the ELA skills based literacy project. With her great record in basic literacy class, it was no surprise that she was chosen as a candidate for the skills development classes.

“It was a cold winter day. My mother and I were sitting at home when someone knocked at our door. The elder of our village along with two other men were behind the door. They asked if I was interested in participating in the project,” she recalled. “I had no hesitation in saying ‘Yes’ and applied to learn tailoring – something I liked doing since I was a child.”

“Both my mother and I could not believe that I was able to learn tailoring for free and be provided with tailoring machines and other necessary equipment.”

After three months, Asma had learnt to sew simple clothes and is quickly advancing. She already feels excited about her achievements. She sewed her first clothes for her mother as a gift for Mother’s Day.

“I was so happy to prepare my first ever Mother’s Day gift. I can’t remember the last time I saw such happiness in my mother’s eyes,” Asma said. “I will try to become a professional tailor and help my family financially. I am sure I will bring happiness to my family by sewing.”

Source: UNESCO Afghanistan