Afghan orphans schooled in business
Afghan orphans schooled in business

Mahboba Rawi, who left Afghanistan 30 years
ago during the Soviet invasion and now lives in Australia, runs a large school and orphanage
in Kabul. What is remarkable about her programme is that along with regular studies it includes
paid internships for students to learn production and marketing skills at a local bakery. When
the students turn 18 they have an opportunity to work full-time. “Fifteen years ago there was a tragedy happened
in my life which changed the direction of how I live. And I lost a son drowned in the
water. Then I made a promise to God that I dedicate my life to work and helping widows
and orphans in my country and saving children not to lose themselves for starvation, sickness.” She established the organisation, called Mahboba’s
Promise. Today she was celebrating the opening of a new bakery shop in the Shar-e-Naw neighbourhood
in Kabul –called the Iranian Bakery because of the style of baked goods. The marketing
and production for this bakery will be done by her organisation. Mahboba has started other entrepreneurial
projects, such as sewing businesses, but she says these don’t satisfy today’s young
Afghans: “They don’t want to do the similar thing
like sewing, they are not interested in that. The boys and girls now want something, a motivation,
something unique, something different, and I can see that making cake is not only making
cake or biscuits. It’s like, designing involved, cutting, style, marketing bookkeeping, so
lots of our children are now in different areas so quite a lot of them are busy with
marketing which we give them–provide them this skill, and that generates income.” Mahboba says that the multiple skills required
to think like business people will hopefully equip her students to someday start businesses
of their own. Selma, one of the children who has been helped by Mahboba’s Promise, says
that along with learning trade skills, she learns other foundational things as well: “We have different educational courses at
our orphanage. They include Koran classes, English and computers. It is very good for
our future because we can also teach other orphans and do something to improve our country.” Everyone hopes that the business will grow.
The profits from the bakery are invested back into the school. At the moment she has 30
orphans learning and working at the bakery, but hopes to expand the operation to provide
work for 500 widows as well. “I am here with Khalid, who is the general
manager of the NGO which runs the orphanage and he is also managing this new bakery and
bakery production programme. He’s kindly offered me a cupcake to try, we’re gonna
sample this. This is very good, especially the frosting. It is very–towsa—very fresh.
It is very good. Good luck to you guys. This is excellent food. Highly recommended by the
NATOChannel. Doing these features can be fun, but the circumstances
of widows and orphans in Afghanistan are quite serious. Family is the basic safety net in
this country, and without one orphans and widows are often left to fend for themselves Jeff Holden and Samim Zalmi for NATOChannel.

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