The income generation related to the construction site promotes the growth of a local almost non-existent economy.
Although only 12% of the country is made up of arable land, the Afghan economy relies heavily on agriculture, especially in remote areas. The primary sector supports more than 60% of the population but half of the rural households only practice subsistence farming, and therefore do not market their own production. These populations are the most affected by seasonal variations: winters are often long and harsh and to survive until spring, a large part of these small farmers must sell cattle, find a job outside agriculture or borrow money. Poverty is particularly acute in mountainous regions, where the poor road conditions and difficult access to markets add to the changeable weather conditions.
Abuzhar is 35 years old and works as a cook at the Sokhtagi school site. He is very happy to have found a job. The unexpected income prompts this father to recount: “Without this job, I could not have satisfied the needs of the five members of my family. I had no hope because I do not own land and had no prospect of income.
Mohamed, 50 years old and head of a family of eight, took the opportunity to pass his truck driving license when he learned that Nai Qala would build a school in his village. His first months salary as a driver allowed him to support his family for a year. With the salary he will receive for the second phase of the project, he plans to buy livestock. Four of Mohamed’s children attend school, three girls and one boy. Thanks to his salary and the prospect of future livestock, he is optimistic about the education of his children; he is now sure to be able to send them to school.
The arrival of a construction site in remote areas, such as the Sokhtagi school, is often a unique and unexpected opportunity to get an income. To date, 34 people work on the site of the future school, of which 26 are local employees recruited from the village specifically for the project. In addition to providing wages to workers, the construction company buys food, to feed its employees, from families or on the local market. Wages and food purchases are a welcome contribution to the growth of the local economy and reduce family poverty.
Nai Qala provides the poorest populations with an income by hiring local helpers when building community infrastructures
In rural villages, the lack of income threatens the budget of many families. Karim, a father of 7 children, was unemployed and did not own any land; he had tried several times to travel to Iran to work but had often been sent back at the border. To earn a little money, Karim and his wife made the difficult decision to place their four children as servants or agricultural helpers.
During the construction of the school, Karim got a temporary job on the construction site. Every morning for 8 months, his wife baked bread for the workers and the family earnt some money. Thanks to this money, the family bought a piece of land and 7 sheeps. They worked hard, grew wheat and the number of sheeps rose to 15.
The years passed and the parents were able to bring the children back home. The father promised that all his children would study in the school he had contributed to build.
Nai Qala’s philosophy is always to hire local auxiliaries for the construction of community infrastructures. In the last 10 years, Nai Qala has hired more than 700 villagers, providing income to people in these remote areas. Village men were employed in the construction of the schools, giving them wages they would not get otherwise, and their wives earned money by providing food to the outworkers in the village.
Former students from Nai Qala schools are now teacher trainers and a source of inspiration for current students
To start the teacher training project in 2016, we hired three university graduates with teaching skills. Remarkably, two of the teachers graduated from a Nai Qala school few years ago.
After completing their university studies, they are now prepared to work to serve their community. The fact that they attended a Nai Qala school was one criterion for selecting them: they return to serve their people, which in turn is a source of inspiration for other students in the village.
The project has also given some local people with qualifications an opportunity to stay in their region rather than seek work elsewhere. This can be an inspiration to other villagers.
Nai Qala always hires local people to assist with the construction of community infrastructures.
In addition to earning money, villagers also learn while working. Nai Qala’s buildings are constructed with up-to-date techniques that are considered to be very new building methods in these areas where traditional houses are made from mud and do not have windows.
Equipped with new building skills, villagers can find jobs in other types of construction. When a non-profit organization comes to their villages, they can offer their skill or they may find a job outside the village and bring a salary home.
One local worker said: “I cannot go somewhere and offer my shepherd skill or cutting bushes from mountains… but this new construction skill now gives me more options for job opportunities. I find a job and earn money.”
Nai Qala early childhood education program provides young local people with job opportunities
Zewar graduated from the school in Nai Qala in 2012 and she studied at the university for four years. Now she is back in her village and she’s leading the early childhood education program for youngsters. Zewar is proud of her role and speaks with love and patience. She received special training in early childhood education with the support of Agha Khan Foundation in Kabul.
Zewar understands the importance of the early childhood education program to the children of her region. She and her colleague, who also went to university thanks to the education received in a Nai Qala school, know that children need more than just reading and writing.