Suraya has four children to support and her husband is old and unable to work.
In Afghanistan, where work opportunities for women are often limited, Christian Aid partner Rehabilitation Association and Agricultural Development for Afghanistan (RAADA) is helping women like Suraya earn an income by cultivating silkworms in their own homes.
This year, Suraya was one of 1,310 women able to save money from silkworm cultivation. She will be reinvesting her profits in the process next year.
Suraya also bought two sheep, which will provide milk, yogurt and cheese for her family.
‘A woman can make $140 twice a year from taking part in this process, which is a significant amount in Afghanistan,’ says Eng Yaqoob Rauf, Christian Aid’s Senior Programme Officer in the country.
‘Silk is expensive and they are able to sell the cocoons in the market. The women are happy as they are able to look after the worms when their husbands are busy with the animals.’
Silk production has always been a traditional form of livelihood in western Afghanistan, where the abundance of mulberry bushes provides food for the worms.
As part of their work to empower women, RAADA has helped them to revive this traditional craft.
‘The income [from silkworms] means women are more empowered; they are not financially dependent on men… they can speak for themselves,’ says Florence Mutesasira, Communications and Media Officer.
Listen to Florence speaking about RAADA’s work.
In the next two years, Christian Aid and the European Union are supporting the project in Zinda Jan district to cultivate silkworms and fruit trees such as apple, mulberry and apricot.
This is helping 200 families each year diversify their incomes and increase their food yields through fruit growing.
Furthermore, the families are able to extend the crop growing season with the introduction of greenhouses that are designed to withstand the harsh winds in this region.
In the last three years, RAADA has helped 50,000 people in 47 rural communities to access drinking water and agricultural training, and provided animals and seeds to help the rural poor improve their lives.