Skip to main content

20 October 2019 - Story



In Afghanistan, the poverty rate has risen from 36% in 2012 to 55% in 2019 and approximately two million people lack reliable and consistent access to food. Last week, the world recognized the importance of addressing issues of poverty and hunger through the observance of International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, International Day of Rural Women, World Food Day, and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The challenges these days shine a light on are all connected. Save the Children works with partners and governments to reduce the numbers of girls and boys in extreme poverty to increase young people’s hopes and skills for better lives, but we recognize that individual support for children and families is also essential. This is why the work of humanitarians, like Rahima, is critical among some of the most vulnerable communities in Afghanistan.

Rahima is a mother of five children living in Kunduz Province in the northern of Afghanistan. She has two daughters and three sons. Rahima has always been dedicated to supporting not only her own children, but those of her community. She decided early-on to put her passion to practice when she began her career as a teacher. She enjoyed working with children and watching them grow and develop, but she also witnessed the struggles they endured simply to attend classes. These include very practical challenges, such as a lack of job opportunities for parents that prevented so many children from realizing their dreams of learning and playing with others in school.

Now, after 12 years since she had been working as a teacher, Rahima has continued her work as a Community Social Worker with Save the Children’s Food Security Livelihoods project. This project helps adults acquire jobs and break their individual cycles of poverty so their families can eat regular meals, seek medical services when required, and allow their children to go to school. Rahima loves what she is doing to support families and witnesses the impact every day.

Working in the field is amazing and I am enjoying my work. When I see families, who don’t have enough food and they go to sleep some nights hungry then it makes me cry and grief overwhelms me. It is hard to see women and children in that situation. But, when I help them and their lives change for the better then that is huge accomplishment for me -something that makes me really happy” said Rahima.

Rahima’s main role with Save the Children is identifying vulnerable families who are suffering from poverty and to provide them with training services and work opportunities to be able to stand on their own feet. Throughout 2018, she has spoken to and supported more than 250 families and helped them to start their own small businesses through trainings and other support, including providing them with facilities to launch their businesses. To help ensure that their businesses are sustainable, Rahima and her team work closely with community members to assess their skills in different areas, from overall management to finance. She has also helped provide business facilities for 118 women in various jobs, including tailoring and baking. 

“Six months ago, I met with a woman who many felt didn’t really have any [professional] skills to establish a business. This woman lives with her family in a remote district of Kunduz Province after being displaced due to the conflict. When I met with her, she was starving along with her children. I knew she needed help and had potential, so I convinced our office to support her in becoming a baker because she mentioned how she enjoyed baking when she could. Knowing the community, I also knew that she could make delicious bread and this is an opportunity. We decided to support her and now she has bakery where she makes 500 Afghans per day, which is a huge amount. I am so happy seeing her and her children having food and better lives.” 

Rahima continues to go to the field every day and she is trying to serve and remain available and supportive for as many people as possible.

“Despite all of the challenges in Kunduz, especially the security problems, that make lives difficult for people and particularly women, I am continuing my work with passion. I want to reach each individual person who is suffering from poverty and provide facilities to eradicate poverty. I am working from the bottom of my heart to root out poverty and I wish every single Afghan has food their home.”

World poverty is robbing girls and boys of their future. Children in poverty face many obstacles growing up. They don't get enough nutritious food and miss out on opportunities at school. They're also more likely to get sick and are at higher risk of being physical harmed. But every child, no matter where they are born, should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. That's why Save the Children's hardworking staff and volunteers, like Rahima, fight world poverty at its roots.