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STORIES FROM THE FIELD
51, saffron processing
Rahema returned to Afghanistan 9 years ago, after 20 years in exile in Iran. A politically-active student at the Teachers’ College, it was dangerous for her to stay during the Soviet invasion. Iran was safer, but she faced discrimination as an immigrant and her children couldn’t go to public schools, so she and her family returned. She taught in Kabul for a few years, until her marriage broke down. Then she went to live in Herat, alone and unemployed until finding a job at Afghanistan Saffron Company in 2020. She likes her work; it covers rent, living expenses and she saves a little. But she dreams of opening her own business making pickles and jam, creating jobs for other women like herself with so much potential and so few opportunities.
Noor Ahmad Mohammadi
23, saffron processing
Noor Ahmad began working part-time with Afghanistan Saffron Company at age 17, to help support his family and pay for his schooling and later university degree. The atmosphere is friendly and caring, like a big family, and regular training has increased his technical skills, but also his confidence and maturity. Soon he wants to marry, a costly affair in Afghanistan. “I went to the president, Mr Rahmati. He knows me, my honesty and integrity. He lent me the money from his own pocket. And now I am engaged to be married!
Basir Ahmad Ahmadi
Basir Ahmad has been working with Afghanistan Saffron Company for eight years, growing the saffron that is then processed at company facilities. Training and mentoring have taught him new cultivation techniques, but also how best to care for the land, so that his daughter and five sons can enjoy good livelihoods in future just as he does today.
35, saffron processing
Aziza is married with one son. Her husband is studying for a Master’s degree in Egypt, leaving her to take care of paying the rent and her son’s school fees. Fortunately, she has been working with the Afghanistan Saffron Company for five years, so she is in a position to maintain the family. It is rewarding work and she has some great colleagues, so Aziza intends to continue even when her husband returns. Two salaries are always better than one when there is a child to raise and his future to build too.