Sharifa is 35, married to a laborer, and they have two children.
Jalalabad— When I start each day I hope that it will be a good day, that my children will be happy and we will have good food that day to eat. This is what everyone wishes for.
But I do wish that I were educated so I could get a job and help my children. During the Taliban years girls were not allowed to go to school and after that my father did not allow me to go to school.
I am happy when my husband comes back from work, when he has been able to work and has earned some money. If he has not then we are all sad.
When my children go to school, they come home and ask me questions about their studies but I cannot help them or say anything because I am not educated. If I were educated I would be able to help my family, but now we are all hand-to-mouth.
I work at home cleaning and cooking and sometimes my neighbors will hire me in case they need help with a marriage party or another ceremony. If you stay home you will be needy, but when you go out to work in people’s houses, neighbors will talk behind your back and say “Look at her, she is young and is working in the houses of others.”
If I must read something I can ask my husband. He went to primary school. He behaves well with me. I would like to learn to read. In past years there was an organization that offered literacy courses in our village. At that time my children were too small to leave them alone at home. Now they are older and if a literacy course starts I will join it.
What makes me disappointed is our bad economic situation. My husband is poor and I am uneducated. We have a lot of family problems.
When I was young I did not even have parents so there was no one to encourage me for anything. This was the life that passed.
By Sharifa, as told to Zuhal