Mohammad Essa is a 29 year-old man hailing from Dawlatabad, a remote village of Balk province in north-west Afghanistan. Until a few years back, apart from helping his family in farming, Essa was part of the 12.6 %( World Bank, 2015) of Afghan people out of work. However, Essa alongside with 45 other poor people has now learned valuable new skills to help him find work through ActionAid’s skill development training. With the skill he learned from the training Essa has become a prominent carpenter in his locality and owner of two show rooms. He earns AFS 20,000(228 GBP) monthly that ensure food security and livelihood of his six-member family.
The problems of unemployment, in a post-conflict country like Afghanistan, affects highly in the live of Afghan people. It leads people, youth in particular, to join in militancy out of desperation and disillusionment and caused increased instability and increased insurgency in the country. Afghanistan comes in the list of top 20 countries with high unemployment where the unemployment rate is estimated about 35 %( Khama Press, December 14, 2014).
“I was a child when my mother died. My father, a farmer, left us home alone and went to neighbouring provinces for work because we did not have enough land to farm.” Essa told his early sufferings when his family couldn’t even afford three meals a day. “As a result of extreme poverty, I couldn’t able to attend school”. Essa continues his tale. “We had no option rather sitting indolently for months”.
In order to help the jobless people, ActionAid Afghanistan conducted in-depth analysis and sorted out the shortage of required skills for the locals. The locals also identified dearth of technical knowledge and skills that caused unemployment for the youth and the people who have potentials to be a good workforce in Afghanistan. The analysis then transformed in to an action plan through which 60 people received trainings on carpentry, metals, tailoring and embroidery.
Alongside with other 14 trainees in the carpentry course, Essa received nine-month long comprehensive training on carpentry. In the training, he learned the nitty-gritty of carpentry that includes cutting, shaping and manufacturing of wooden furniture. He also gained traditional carpentry knowledge and gained some advanced skills on the art of modern carpentry. As a result of his concerted effort and commitment, he became a full-pledged carpenter, who can make all kinds of furniture that includes wood shelf, table, sofa, bed frame, wardrobe, dresser etc. Apart from developing the required skill sets, the training provided Essa with other inputs such as cash grants and connections with various show rooms and customers to sell his products in a competitive price.
Essa said “I wanted a better life, but I had no idea how that could be possible until ActionAid launched the vocational courses in our village. I loved it and I didn’t even miss a single lesson during the whole period of the course.”
He continued “Upon completion of the training we were awarded with a certificate together with tools and inputs provided by ActionAid. Initially I opened a small shop in my village where I used to manufacture cupboards and door and window frames”.
“With two years of hard work and dedication, I saved AFS 7,000.00 per month in addition to ensuring a modest living for my family. I then expanded my business and now I have two show rooms and am well-known for my carpentry skills across other provinces of Afghanistan. People from different parts of the country purchase furniture from my show rooms.”
Essa not only helps his family, he too employees five other young people from his locality. They have been working with him for the last couple of months and earning AFS 150.00 daily to help their families. He has also been providing them with on-the-job training that helps them to become a skilled workforce within a few months.
He is very optimistic about his business and would like to expand it in all over Afghanistan including Kabul. He is very thankful to his trainers and ActionAid since the organization provided him with necessary skills and supports.