Friday, April 19, 2024

Weaving occupation: A beacon of hope amid poverty in Afghanistan

Immigration News

Fidel Rahmati
Fidel Rahmati
Fidai Rahmati is the editor and content writer for Khaama Press. You may follow him at Twitter @FidelRahmati
Zinat usually weaves “mats” or washcloths and prepares the raw materials in her special way (image/Khaama Press).

Written By: Zahra Rashidi

Weaving by hand takes a lot of time; at least 3 to 4 hours, but Zinat’s hands are familiar with this difficulty. She now weaves quickly and then takes her hand-woven mats/washcloths to the market for sale. Each mat, woven with such effort and skill, sells for only five Afghanis.

Zinat, who is over 50 years old, lives in the Kotal-e-Khair Khana area, one of the most crowded areas of Kabul. She used to be a teacher and has over 25 years of teaching experience. According to herself, she was retired from the previous government, but now she is forced to turn to weaving out of necessity.

She has only one daughter who is fifteen years old. Her daughter dropped out of school and they both live in Zinat’s brother’s house. Zinat’s husband left during the ongoing crisis of unemployment in Afghanistan and now works in Iran.

She has known weaving for a long time, but this is the first time she thinks she can only work this way. Zinat usually weaves “mats” and prepares its raw materials in her own special way.

Zinat says, “I come home with a large woollen jacket from Lelami. I unravel it. From one jacket, I weave five or more mats.”

Zinat is weaving/Image/Khaama Press.

Preparing raw materials for weaving and the weaving process itself are not difficult for her, but she always struggles in the selling part of the woven mats. On one hand, she sells each mat, woven with all that effort, for only five Afghanis, yet on the other hand, there is always a customer willing to buy.

She says, “I live in my brother’s house. They sheltered me, but I have to find my bread.”

According to Zinat’s belief, people can’t even afford to buy mats. She weaves mats in various sizes and colors, but sadly remarks, “The residents of Kotal-e-Khair Khana cannot afford to buy because they are all poor.”

She says she has been weaving for two years: she buys woollen jackets from Lelami, unravels them, weaves mats from the threads, and handles all the stages of selling them.

For her, working in the market, going to shops, and boasting about her woven mats are not difficult because, as she puts it, this is her job. But the problem starts when her mats don’t sell.

Zinat recalls a day when her mats wouldn’t sell, and she felt hopeless: “I got up from my place on Saturday morning; I had completed many hand-woven mats for sale, but I knew I would return home empty-handed again. So, I didn’t need to take the mats with me again and thought it would be better to do something else than to return home empty-handed.”

She continues, “I went to the alley of Almari, threw everything I had in the house, like clothes, scarves, shoes, and essentials, into a bag and went to the market of Kotal-e-Khair khana.”

The Woven Washcloths/Mats by Zinab/Image/Khaama Press.

Zinat is in a situation where standing tall is difficult for her, but she is still concerned about her 15-year-old daughter who dropped out of school: “I feel ashamed in front of my daughter because, like a mother, I could never fulfill her wishes. Now, what can I do with just five Afghanis?”

She reflects on her feeling that she could work and earn money: “I used to work passionately and love my profession. I felt like a strong woman and worked sincerely, but I retired.”

She says Afghan women are resilient and want to work shoulder to shoulder with men, and she also wants to work. Zinat intends to continue her efforts and hopes to improve the living conditions of herself and her family in the future.

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