This week AWWP brings you Oral Stories from illiterate women about their daily work and lives.  AWWP writers in six provinces interviewed women who were not allowed to go to school about the daily challenges they face, and what illiteracy means for them and their families. Our writers then transcribed the women’s stories and translated them into English.

Here is a sampling of what they heard:

In An Illiterate Maid Asks for Respect, a 41-year-old widow who cleans classrooms and floors at a university told our writer Zuhal in Kabul how she had the chance to go to school for just a few years when she was young. “But when the Russian soldiers came to Afghanistan, my father stopped us from going to school. We respected him and accepted his wishes. I would like to have been educated.”

Fatima M. interviewed Shako Riya in Kandahar. She is 22 and lives with her parents.  In The Unequal Divide of Illiteracy she told Fatima: “I want to learn a lot. I like to recite the holy Qur’an because one of the important bases of Islam is the Qur’an. I want to have information about my religious laws and this is not possible if I don’t have education. My illiteracy affects many areas. Even my friends or my family members, they say ‘you are uneducated, you are not important.’ This is the cause of my disadvantages: illiteracy.”

In Happiness Is Feeling Safe One Day, Gol Makai, 54, a mother of six who lives in Balkh province, said the biggest challenge of every mother is bomb attacks. “I start every day with the hope that today there will be no war and no suicide bombs and I will spend my day in peace. I get very sad every time a suicide attack happens and it kills and injures many people.”

The stories have been edited for length and clarity.  To read more, click on the links below.

Susan Postlewaite, Editing Director

Oral Stories:

  1. Do Not Stay Home: Go Out and Learn!, by Bibi Gul as told to Story
  2. Happiness Is Feeling Safe One Day, by Gol Makai as told to Humaira
  3. An Illiterate Maid Asks for Respect, by Karima as told to Zuhal
  4. Washing and Cleaning, by Sakina as told to Zakia
  5. The Unequal Divide of Illiteracy, by Shako Riya as told to Fatima M.
  6. Taliban Did Not Let Girls Go to School, by S Anonymous as told to Zuhal

Founded in 2009, AWWP is staffed by dozens of volunteers and financially sponsored by donors.

Photo: Canada in Afghanistan/Zakarya Gulistani. Graphics by Blatman Design.