Mahboba’s Promise is an organisation run by Mahboba Rawi, which includes both an orphanage and now a baking factory that not only turns out tasty baked goods but also provides an education and work experience for Afghanistan’s orphans and widows.

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,” Mahboba said.

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,” she added.

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.

Selma a Bakery employee and student said “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.

This is the script of a NATOChannel story by Jeff Holden, Samim Zalmi.


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