Razia* is a member of a self-help group in Afghanistan. She has six children; four of them in school. Razia’s life used to be hard. Her husband had health problems and could not work regularly, making it hard for the family to make ends meet. They ended up in debt to the shops because they could not pay for the food they needed for their family.
Razia was told about the women’s saving group three years ago when she first moved to the area. She decided to visit the group to find out more. After learning how the group works and what its rules are, Razia decided to join.
“I became very happy and was refreshed in the group,” Razia said. “Although I spent most of my time at home with noisy children and the many difficulties of life, I started to feel hope when I came to the group. I found the stories of the other women always very interesting. I found that the group was not just about savings and taking loans, but there were also many important social issues that we could learn and talk about. I was also able to get very good lessons about self-sufficiency.”
Razia began thinking about starting a bakery to help her family and decided to take a loan of 10,000 AFN (approximately 110 Euros) in order to get started. She made a tandoor in the corner of her house so she could bake the bread. The family worked together: Razia baked inside the house, and her son sold the bread outside the house. They could make as many as 300 loafs of bread in a day and were able to pay back the money they owed.
Now Razia is thinking about taking another loan so she could grow the business even further by adding a big room to the house. This would give her a separate working space so the flour and the dough would not travel everywhere in the house.
“Baking is a good business because it does not depend on the season – in both summer and winter we can bake bread. I am very happy for the group and the changes that have come to my life. I am especially happy that I now have a big new family, which is my group. We are really thankful for the self-help group project and the hard work of the facilitators. When we did not have the training, we were blind, but now we have started to see!”