“Who would marry a short girl like her? Look at her legs. Why did you come, it’s better you stayed at home.”
This is what Nazia, who was born with a disability, hears from people whenever she goes to a party or a gathering.
Nazia is originally from Kunar province, but due to insecurity in her home province, her family moved to Jalalabad City. She is clever, and a hard worker, and was determined to achieve her dream of getting a higher education. But because of her disability and the fact that she couldn’t earn money, she had to put her dreams of education on hold.
In Afghanistan, access to higher education continues to be a challenge, especially for women in remote areas, which tend to be socially conservative. And for those with disabilities, earning a living can seem impossible.
But Nazia was not willing to give up just yet. Determined to be economically independent, she learned embroidery from her older sister. For three months now, she has been working in a local garment factory, supported by the SALAM project, a UNDP/Government project supported by the Government of Finland.
“My brother heard about the SALAM project and carried me to the Department of Labor Social Affairs (DOLSA) for the programme for disabled citizens. I took an exam there and got selected.”
The SALAM project supports trainees for six months. The first three months is on-the-job training, where the Afghanistan Centre for Excellence (ACE), a job-creation contractor of the SALAM project, is responsible for paying the wages.
“I’m very happy. I found my trainer, colleagues and the work environment very friendly.” says Nazia. "I feel very happy to be a part of this family. Now I have developed my embroidery skills a lot.”