The Story of Hamar Gul
Hamar Gul, her husband Mohammed Esa, and their five young children were poor but were content and coping with the income of Mohammed, who was a stone miner in Badakhshan. One fateful day three years ago, Mohammed said goodbye to his wife and kids with a smile before heading off to his day job. An expert at stone extraction, Mohammed was hammering out a stone when a large piece fell and hit him on the head. After villagers managed to pull him out of the mine, he was immediately brought to the main hospital in the provincial capital, Faizabad. For one month, Mohammed was bedridden, fighting for his life, but he sustained severe injuries that he couldn’t recover from. He passed away at a young age of 33. Hamar Gul, only 23 years old then, faced the frightening future of being a widow and breadwinner for her five children.
“We were destitute,” recalled Hamar Gul. “Whatever little savings we had were went to pay my husband’s medical bills; we were penniless and there was not a single source of income.”
Life turned harsh immediately as Hamar Gul knocked on every door in her village to find a job, but was turned down each time. The widow, who barely had a moment to grieve the loss of her husband, was overcome by anguish and desperation.
“The cold breeze of winter was punishment – no food to feed my children, no fuel to keep my children warm,” narrated Hamar Gul. “We had to spend long winter nights without food, my kids used to sleep on an empty stomach.”
One day she went to the adjacent village and there she found a home to work in. She cleaned the animal shelter, washed large carpets and cooked meals. Still, her income was not sufficient to meet her family’s daily needs that her youngest daughter, only one year old at that time, suffered from malnutrition. This forced Hamar Gul to send her nine-year old son to the village to look for work.
“I had a dream, like many parents, to have healthy children and to be able to send them to school to study so that they will not be illiterate and will have a better future than myself,” said Hamar Gul. “Instead, I had to send my son to work; it was such a difficult thing to do but my options were very limited.”
A window of hope opened to Hamar Gul’s life when she learnt that she had been selected as one of the beneficiaries of a project called Targeting The Ultra-Poor “TUP” after a couple of visits the village representative and the project staff paid to her dilapidated house assessing her living conditions.
TUP not only provided her the livestock of her choice and monthly stipend but taught Hamar Gul very important issues which changed her attitude and practices towards health, livelihood and social issues. “I knew nothing. My only concern was to earn a piece of bread for my children” she said. “Thanks to the project staff. Now, I am well aware of hygiene, savings and livestock raring and I observe them in my life”.
Now, Hamar Gul holds a bank account where she saves her money earned from selling dairy products in the village. More importantly, her little daughter suffering from malnutrition was linked to a hospital, which helped her overcome malnutrition and her son is now going to school, instead of working for food in the village.
Nowadays too, the smile on her face narrates that Hamar Gul has put her hopeless days behind her. She is filled with happiness and hope, and gratitude to MISFA, CoAR, and MAIL.