Sewing and clothes making are among the most wanted professions in Afghan culture. Girls and women are very keen to learn and work in this field and aspects of the work require great skill and attention to detail.
Afghan Action has been working with young men and women since 2005, especially the poorest and least educated people (many have never been to school) who are unemployed. So, at the end of July 2011, Afghan Action started a sewing/clothing project, the aim being to train 46 people (mainly women) over a two year period. 3 professional master trainers and 12 women (6 with some experience of sewing and 6 young apprentices) formed the first group.
Participants in the first group were aged between 18 to 25 and very keen to join the project and learn this profession. 40 people applied for the 12 places and those selected best matched what we were looking for and our broad aims.
- 5 of those selected were aged between 18 to 22 years old, had no education and no trained skills or qualifications.
- 2 of those selected had had previous training – limited and informal - and have been to school for a few years before they left Afghanistan as refugees and went to Iran or Pakistan.
- 5 of those selected were living in severe poverty and, because of this, had been unable to continue their schooling and so could never could acquire qualifications. But when they joined Afghan Action, they were now able to restart their education and acquire training and qualifications.
This project aims to produce attractive clothing for the Afghan market – and for other markets elsewhere in the world. Opportunities have been researched and the need for expert sewing and embroidering of clothing for special occasions (Eid, weddings etc) exists, as does a demand for uniforms (for companies, schools etc).
Further trainees were recruited and trained during 2013 and 2014 and the whole project was finally completed in the autumn of 2014, with 52 people having been trained. This was thanks to funding provided by the Clothworkers Foundation, the Linda Norgrove Foundation and ASHRAM International. We are most grateful to them for their generous support.