The Vocational Training Centre (VTC) is operated by the Organisation for the Promotion of Afghan Women’s Capabilities (OPAWC) in one of the poorest areas of Kabul. It has been funded by SAWA-Australia (SA) Inc since its inception in 2008.

The VTC has continued to offer vocational and literacy classes to hundreds of Afghan women and girls who, for many reasons, had been denied access to formal education.
The overall investment in this project is based on the understanding that such classes empower women and girls to gain formal education and skills to earn an income.

SAWA-Australia (SA) Inc contributes an average of AUD $50,000 annually to meet the needs of the VTC.

Initially, the Centre offered mainly literacy classes, but with increased funding over the years, vocational training classes in tailoring and handicrafts have been added to meet the interests and requirements of the women and girls. Since 2020, with the help of generous donations from SAWA supporters, the VTC is now also offering English language and computing classes.

Ongoing political turmoil and continuous wars with the Taliban and ISIS have resulted in economic instability and increasing poverty in Afghanistan. The women at the VTC, many of whom are the breadwinners in their families, recognise the importance of vocational training to enable them to earn and income.

Vocational Training is provided in tailoring and embroidery.

The new plan has two parts:

Vocational Training

This is the beginning phase where women get training through two programs:

Tailoring

A master tailor and a professional designer are employed to teach sewing skills and production. Four training classes for approximately 160 students each year are divided into various categories, depending on skill levels.
The younger girls learn the basics of tailoring, while the more experienced women learn how to make traditional Afghan dresses, pant suits and coats.

Tailoring

Embroidery

Two embroidery workshops at VTC are equipped with embroidery machines, enabling women to learn how to make handicraft items.

Trainers understand the local market and have many years’ experience in this field.

Embroidery

Production Workshop

In the early years, after receiving training, the women were left to set up and manage their own business at home. Some were successful in setting up small tailoring shops, but they often had difficulty in finding customers and maintaining a business.

The VTC has now allocated a large room in the basement as a production workshop where skilled women are assisted in making garments and handicraft items, using machines and equipment owned by the Centre.
Up to 80 women can work simultaneously, with the designer and master tailor supervising their work.

Orders are received from vendors outside the centre and the products sold in shops and markets. The goal of the workshop is for the women to share in the sales profits.

Production Workshop

Impact for women involved with workshop

Name: Nasrin
Age: 48
Job: Working in OPAWC’s workshop
Year joined: 2019

Nasrin is a mother of 7 children and her husband can’t work because he broke his spine in an accident 6 years ago. She lives in a rented house in one of the poorest areas of Kabul and has a very difficult live.
Before coming to our centre, she was selling traditional Afghan food on the side of the road and had lots of problem. Now she works in our workshop, and is very happy, and she says that her life is improving every day.

Nasrin

Name: Frishta
Age: 27
Job: Working in OPAWC’s workshop
Year joined: 2019

Frishta is a mother of 3 children and lost her husband 8 years ago in a bomb blast in Kabul. She said that before coming to the centre her children were selling plastic in the streets, but now she has enrolled her children in school and works in our workshop earning money.

Frishta

Name: Sabra
Age: 26
Job: Working in OPAWC’s workshop
Year joined: 2019

Sabra was born in Kuner province into a poor family. Her parents are very old and most of the time they are not able to pay their medical expenses. Previously, her young brother was responsible for all the family’s expenses, but now Sabra works in OPAWC’s workshop and earns money, and is able to help her family too. Sabra’s very happy to be working with OPAWC and she said that they now have a better life.

Sabra

Literacy Program

Many Afghan women never have access to formal education and therefore cannot read or write. The VTC’s literacy classes provide basic literacy skills and assist students, especially young girls, to continue their education after graduating from the VTC.

Many former students have benefitted from this training and have become educated and independent.

English language and Computing classes

SAWA-Australia (SA) Inc sought advice from the Directors of the VTC regarding additional needs and interests of the women and girls at the Centre. For many, employment opportunities depend on some knowledge of the English language and/or skills in computing.

With the assistance of donors, SAWA provided additional funds for the purchase of computers and the employment of specialist teachers in these areas. The VTC is excited to provide these classes on an ongoing basis.

Impact for women involved with literacy program

Name: Samina
Age: 18
Job: Student
Year joined: 2019

I was born in Wardak province of Afghanistan. When I was very young, the Taliban closed down all girls schools in our village. The severity of insecurity forced us to leave our home and come to Kabul.
We lost our everything in Wardak and now living in Kabul is very difficult for us. We are six people in our family, and my father is the only one to run our family life. A few months ago, I started literacy class in OPAWC’s VTC and now I’m able to read and write and plan to start studying at school after graduating from OPAWC.
The biggest lesson I have learned from OPAWCs community centre is that women need to work alongside men in order to have a better life.

Samina

Name: Nazia
Age: 19
Job: Student
Year joined: 2019

I am Nazia from the Wardak Province of Afghanistan. We are 9 people in our family and all of us are illiterate. Six years ago, we lost everything in Wardak and we moved to Kabul. My father searched to find a job but unfortunately he couldn’t, so finally he decided to go to Iran and work there to feed his family.
This year we came to one of the poorer districts of Kabul due to insufficient money, and fortunately here we got to know about OPAWC which provided us with literacy and vocational skills.
Now myself and my younger sister are both learning how to read and write, and in a few months I will attend public school. Thanks to OPAWC and its generous donors for providing us with this great opportunity.

Nazia

Name: Parwana
Age: 38
Job: Student
Year joined: 2019

I am from Paghman district of Kabul. I’m a mother of two girls and two boys. My husband is illiterate and has been unemployed since 2015.
Life was very difficult for me before I learned sewing skills, most of the time I did not have money to cover the medical expenses of my children, and it was difficult for me to find dry bread to fill my baby’s belly. I earned a little money by cleaning and washing clothes in people’s homes. Now I’m happy to learn sewing skills and I earn enough money through tailoring at home to help me make a better life for my family.

Parwana

Humaira (32 years old) Sohaila (27 years old), along with Roma (21) and Rawzia (12), are four sisters from Wardak Province and they lost all their family members in one of the Taliban attacks in Wardak.
Now they live together in a rented house in Kabul. Sohaila and Humaira learned sewing and embroidering skills and now they make clothes to earn money. They can manage more easily now financially, and have decided to open a shop in one of the women’s bazars in Kabul.

Humaira
Sohaila

Key Staff

Director: Parwana Bahadur is the director of OPAWC. She is responsible for providing leadership in developing programs, overseeing organisational and financial planning with the board of directors and staff, and carrying out plans and policies authorised by the board.
She also works with the staff, finance, and the board in preparing the budget to ensure that the organisation operates within budget guidelines.

Before taking up her new role with OPAWC, Parwana worked as a teacher in refugee camps in Pakistan. She also has extensive experience volunteering with many organisations in the provision of support and capacity-building programs for women. Living among refugees gave Parwana great insight into the particular needs and challenges faced by women, including lack of proper nutrition, health issues, inaccessibility to education, and denial of basic human rights. She brings to OPAWC a strong commitment to women’s rights and independence.

Name: Frishta Hashimi
Age: 30
Job: Sewing teacher
Year joined OPAWC: 2019

I have four sisters and one brother. I lost my father when I was a child. When the Taliban came into power we lost everything and moved to Pakistan. Later we returned to Afghanistan but faced many problems and had nothing for living.

With hundred problems I managed to go to school and finish my schooling successfully, but was not able to continue my education.

I have been teaching at OPAWC’s Vocational Training Center for almost 12 years, an opportunity that changed my life and kept the hope alive for me.

My mother and small sister are sick and with the money that I make from working at OPAWC I provide treatment for them. I also joined one of the NURSING KABUL INSTITUTES but unfortunately my brother hasn’t yet given me the permission to work at the hospital and so my aspirations remain incomplete.
However, I am glad that I can serve the suffering women of my country by teaching sewing.

Frishta

Name: Nooria Askari
Age: 31
Job: Literacy teacher
Year joined OPAWC: 2019

I was born in Baghlan but I am from Jaghori, Ghazi. There was no school or university in my hometown, so my family moved to live in Kabul, Afghanistan.
I finished my school and university after years of struggling because of the Taliban. After finishing my university studies, I decided to find a job and after finally finding a job I used my income to support my family, and after getting married, now I can support my husband’s family and run the house.

Nooria

Name: Shiba Wahab
Age: 30
Job: Computer teacher
Year joined OPAWC: 2020

I was born in Kabul into a literate family. I have five brothers and five sisters. When the war started in Afghanistan, we lost our parents and had to leave our home and became refugees in Pakistan. And there we faced lots of problems, and for this reason I could not continue my education in Pakistan.

In 2006 we came back to Kabul and my older brother helped me and my sisters to continue our education at one of the public schools in Kabul. After I graduated from high school I found a job in a private school and it helped me to continue my higher education at one of the private universities in Kabul.

Now I am working at OPAWC and have a good salary, which means I can support my husband and my four little children. In addition to supporting my family I am so glad that I can serve the suffering women and girls of my country by teaching them computer skills, and I hope for a bright future for all of them.

Shiba

Special Events

On the occasion of the Independence Day of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock organised a big exhibition in Kabul. We also attended this exhibition and rented one booth for three days to exhibit and sell our handicrafts which are made by OPAWCs students.

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