As refugees from The Soviet War who literally fled on foot out of Afghanistan, the Ahmadi family and their hard-earned success epitomizes the American Dream. But a comfortable life in the safety of West Hollywood isn’t what drives them. They’ve committed to what seems impossible – creating generational change by empowering women in a country where 85% have no formal education and are illiterate.
In 2003, Amadi Carpets returned to Afghanistan to open its first weaving workshop in Kabul. The employees? Twenty women from the local area. The cultural hurdles to make this happen were monumental. The brothers behind Amadi Carpets went from family to family, attempting to persuade husbands, fathers and brothers to allow their wives, mothers and sisters the opportunity to work… and learn. The process was painfully slow over a three-year period, but has now become a reality for 120 women.
The women, aged 18 to 70, have been taught weaving skills as well as provided education classes. A bus safely transports them from around the Kabul area to the weaving center. Beyond earning an income and education, the women are helping to impact an entire generation. Because the women now provide for their household, their children who would have normally worked (as is the reality for many Third World countries) are given the opportunity to go to school.
“You help empower one woman and you have empowered a whole family. You empower more than one woman and you have empowered a whole community,” explains Zubair Ahmadi, one of the company founders.