According to the UNODC, there are almost one million drug-users in Afghanistan, with consumption of opium having reached alarming proportions amongst women, children, and young people in the province of Balkh.
Using the understanding gained from our work delivering basic healthcare in the Shortepa district of Balkh, we delivered a project that tackled one of the root causes of opium-addiction – and empowered local women to be agents of positive change within their communities.
Freedom from drugs and pain
Carpet-weaving is a traditional source of income for many Shortepa women, but long hours crouched over the loom causes backache and muscle pain. Many weavers become addicted to the opium they use to control the pain. Also, since a single carpet took around 150 days to complete, mothers commonly used the drug to make their young children sleep so they could work more continuously. As a result, the children often also became addicted.
We worked with 140 women-weavers already engaged in our Drug Rehabilitation and Basic Health project. The women received training and new looms, which allow them to complete carpets more quickly and to move more freely while working.
“Since we came to this project, we learned many things like dangers of narcotics, about healthcare, and how to use the new looms. We can now reconcile all these in our daily life, and we can teach our relatives and neighbours too.”
Laala Gul, Shortepa, Balkh, Afghanistan