My name is Amina*. I am 22 years old and my parents’ only child. When I was three years old my father died and my mother, uncle and I went to Iran where we lived with my uncle’s family.
Life was very difficult there for my mother and I. Although I was very young we were weaving carpets from morning to evening to find a little income for my education. I was very eager to learn.
Life was very hard without a father. My mother was trying to be a mother and a father to me. My father’s brothers were in Afghanistan and called us many times to return to Afghanistan.
After 15 years in Iran we went back to Afghanistan. Life here was very difficult. One of my uncles forced my mother to marry one of his sons and they also forced me to marry another son - I was very afraid that if I did not comply they would separate me from my mother. I did not have a choice, because all I had was my mother. My mother married first and then I got engaged to my uncle’s son. I asked my husband-to-be to allow me to continue with my studies - which he did.
There was a self-help group (SHG) meeting in my aunt’s house. I joined the group and took on the responsibility as the bookkeeper. After a while I became a Cluster Level Association facilitator, too.
At the beginning, it was very difficult for me to work with women. I felt shy and was afraid of being around them and having to talk to them. But the women in the group helped me and encouraged me. I gained a little courage and grew in confidence. Eventually I was able to run the group very well. I spent the money, which I took as a loan, on my education.