In the summer of 2002 when I was in the city of Kandahar, I had a chance meeting with a former teacher, the late Safia Ama Jan, who became a source of inspiration. She had established a small centre to provide basic literacy and skills training for a group of 34 women, most of them widows in their twenties. They spent two hours learning basic reading and writing, followed by a few more hours of work, using the skills they already had in sewing and embroidery. Their handiwork was sold in the local market. The revenue paid for the centre's rent; anything left was then shared equally among the women. I met with these young women and heard their stories. I was impressed with what I saw at the women's centre and wanted to find a way to help, to do something tangible. And I wanted it to be in memory of my late friend, Dyana, who took her own life while living under the rule of the Taliban.
I met with a couple of friends in Canada and we decided it would be best if we established a charity that could provide support to local groups. In my subsequent trips to Afghanistan I realized that this simple model, which was established by Afghan women themselves, could also be effective in other parts of the country.
In one of my visits to Bamiyan, a group of women gathered around me saying they are 'blind'. Noticing my confusion, they explained that they could see, but couldn't read or write - 'blindness' had become a metaphor for their lack of education.
And so in 2006, the Dyana Afghan Women's Fund first project began.
Everyone involved in DAWF is a volunteer. We want to keep things small and manageable, focusing on one project at a time. Any help in fundraising initiatives, individual contributions, or volunteering is greatly appreciated.
Nelofer Pazira and the DAWF team