Jennifer McCarthy is CAFOD’s Programme Officer for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here she reflects on her time in Herat, a province in western Afghanistan, where we’re supporting small businesses in rural areas.
It was the haunting tune from the rabab that lured me inside his small, dark and overcrowded shop tucked in beside Herat’s magnificent Blue Mosque. Haji Nasir, a Herati shopkeeper, sat playing the antique stringed instrument on an old carpet. He smiled as I walked in.
The plight of rural Herat
Putting down his rabab, he greeted me kindly and a conversation ensued. He lamented the state of affairs in Herat. On a positive note, Haji Nasir explained, Herat city is in good order and many people were benefitting from economic growth from trade with Iran, which neighbours Herat province. However, he said, the rural districts of the province are not as fortunate, and most people are unable to cope with soaring illiteracy rates, rising food prices and unreliable rainfall, resulting in increasing levels of poverty across the rural areas of Herat province.