Zia Jaan is a mother of three and is known in the Kandahar Treasure family as the “gold-teeth tailor.” She’s always smiling and has the ability to cheer the women around her even when they’re sad. She is a hard worker and regrets not being educated. She wishes she had daughters so that she could give them the opportunity to study. She says that she wants to work now so that her sons can be educated, and she wants to save enough money so that when she gets old she will not have to depend on them financially! Zia Jaan often jokes with the other women in the program at Kandahar Treasure that we should all save up and open a senior citizen home, so we’ll have somewhere to go when we’re too old to work.


Khanum Gula has an unusual life story for a woman of Kandahar. She is the eldest of four sisters, none of whom are married! Khanum Gula lives with her mother, three sisters, and a brother who recently got married. She and her sisters work along with their brother to support the family. Khanum Gula loves chewing gum and often gets in trouble with her colleagues for making too many bubbles! She loves to laugh and work. She is one of our best and fastest workers. She always asks for colorful work; she does not like to make dull things.


Maami is happily married and has four children – one daughter and three sons. Maami’s family is extremely poor. Until recently, she has always worked as an aide to rich women in their homes. But a year ago, she realized that her services were not valued at the home where she worked and, during a salary dispute, she decided to quit her job and join Kandahar Treasure. Now she is very happy and often says, “I wish I could work here before – I am respected and well paid!”


Roshana is our beauty queen at Kandahar Treasure. She loves makeup, fine clothes, and shoes with high heels. Roshana is a very meticulous worker and takes twice as long as anyone else to finish her embroidery but in the end her pieces are always awe-inspiring. Roshana has just one son and her husband is a teacher. The family is slowly becoming middle class, and Roshana walks a lot to keep her weight down, as there are no opportunities in Kandahar for other kinds of exercise. Roshana was a child during the war and so did not attend school; her parents felt it was too dangerous. She regrets her lack of education and so she studies hard at Kandahar Treasure’s literacy course. She wants to learn English and to use computers.


Shajana is our group’s politician. A highly opinionated woman, Shajana is already a grandmother of three and has herself raised nine children! Years ago, Shajana lost a front tooth and would always cover her mouth with her scarf. When Kandahar Treasure staff asked her why she covered her mouth, she showed us her toothless smile. We thought she looked cool without the tooth, that its absence was part of her identity, and we told her so. Now she no longer wears the scarf and instead smiles with confidence. Shajana talks often about the constant fighting in Kandahar, and once suggested that women march against the violence in the region. Her workmates agreed with her but ultimately decided against the march for fear of being attacked. With her expressive mind, Shajana has become a natural advocate on behalf of the working women in Kandahar Treasure.


Najiba has recently joined our group and is younger than the rest of us. She has a sad life story. Najiba has been married for eight years and has always had problems with her in-laws. Not long ago, the problems increased until she was forced to leave her children and husband and live at her mother’s house. Needing to provide for herself, she came to Kandahar Treasure. Now she is negotiating with her husband in hopes of returning to her children, and she is happy in her new job because, even more than the money, she enjoys the company of her sisters around her. The older women treat her like their daughter and all of them give her moral support, assuring her that the family problem is not hers alone. Sharing the pain, the women take the burden off Najiba’s shoulders.


Fatema and her family have recently returned from refugee life in Iran. Fatema is a tailor at Kandahar Treasure and loves makeup, stylish hairdos, singing and dancing. Not a day goes by that Fatema doesn’t share a joke with her workmates, making them all laugh. Fatema is the group’s advocate for picnics and other social programs. She loves to coordinate events and is also a great cook. Fatema has problems with her husband, who does not work and depends on her income to support the family, but she takes them in stride. ”Good and bad moments come in life” she says. “We must accept and live through both.” She remembers her life in Iran as very good compared to now but feels that at least now she is in her real home.


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