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A World of Soccer Balls


A World of Soccer Balls

PeaceXPeace - “Ferishta, a young mother who returned to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban with nothing, tells a story that is remarkable and also typical.”  In the week of the Kabul Conference, I know Afghanistan’s  future depends on its women. In June 2009, I visited Mazar-e Sharif to better understand the status of women. I interviewed women of all ages and heard stories of oppression, violence, and resilience. Every woman I met had hope for the future of Afghanistan, as well as for the lives of women across the country. This is an aspect that is often not mentioned in today’s media coverage of the war in Afghanistan. Ferishta, a young mother who returned to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban with nothing, tells a story that is remarkable and also typical. She gives a new meaning to the term soccer mom.

Ferishta with a customer - I Wanted My Business to Help Other People. Story by Heather MetcalfeFerishta with a customer - I Wanted My Business to Help Other People. Story by Heather Metcalfe“I’m 28 and I run a manufacturing company that produces soccer balls, which I founded in November of 2008.

Of course, you know that the building of a country is not only the responsibility of the men. It is the responsibility of every individual to contribute to the economic growth of the country. Making a business is not just for the business;  it is also a way to provide employment for other people. In Afghanistan I believe that 95% of the people are illiterate because of the wars that still go on. People have not been able to go to school and are without work, so through our businesses we can assist many families.

You know that in Afghanistan, sometimes people think that it’s very difficult for a woman if a woman wants to do anything. I also had the same idea, but after starting my own business I feel so much happier and more encouraged. I feel very powerful because as an Afghan woman I am able to do something. I am sure that one day I will be able to compete with other businesses, if not all over the world, then at least in some places. That’s what makes me feel proud.

I have 20 employees, men and women. The department of refugees and evacuation has programs to assist the most vulnerable families. They introduced me to some of these families, people who are very poor and have no income but who are looking for projects and opportunities. There are many large families in which not one member of the family has an income, not even a small income of one dollar per day. They recommend people and I meet with them and tell them about making soccer balls. And that’s how I did it.

Since some of these people have joined my company and have been trained how to stitch a ball, they are paid on a daily basis and that helps a lot to support their families. I wanted my business to help other people, not just myself, because I’m not thinking about profit right now. Even if I’m only able to pay their wages and that is all, that’s everything.”


Heather Metcalfe is Founder/Executive Director of Artfully Unforgotten, which advocates for vulnerable communities through art. Currently, she is advocating for Afghan women with the film and book titled VOICES OF AFGHANISTAN, firsthand accounts of women she met during her visit last year. For more of Ferishta’s story, as well as others, visit www.artfullyunforgotten.com and watch “Voices of Afghanistan.”

Source: www.peacexpeace.org
Banner Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. James Selesnick

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