By Paul Lehmann, Minister Counsellor AusAID, Kabul Afghanistan
The Australian Government makes a significant contribution to the delivery of aid in Afghanistan, and through my work I am fortunate enough to see how some of it is delivered on the ground.
Recently, I was invited to join a delegation of aid practitioners to observe the UN World Food Program’s Kabul area operations. One of the stops on our journey was at a centre, run by the Afghan Women’s Business Council (and funded by the World Food Program) that provides food, training and income-generating opportunities to vulnerable women.
Stepping through the front door of the centre, I was struck by the small size of the room and the number of people working at such close quarters within it. In between vintage, hand-powered sewing machines and embroidery boards used to fashion garments and other pieces of apparel, huddled approximately 30 women of various ages.
In stark contrast to the rudimentary and antiquated tools at hand, the women tailor a wide range of intricately designed garments, which they then sell to market stallholders for a small profit; allowing them to eke out a basic living.