Category Archives: Uncategorized

Karim’s Story

I remember when I was 9 years old my father had a stroke and became disabled. It has been a very difficult time for our family. I had to stop going to school and I became the family’s breadwinner. Since I was too young to work in a serious job and there were not enough jobs for everyone, I just started to walk on the streets and do what other boys of my age did, collect trash. Did I like this job? No. None of the kids liked this job, but we had no choice. Everyday from 7AM to 7PM, I wandered around the dusty streets of Kabul collecting plastic bottles, papers, plastic bags, etc. I knocked on the doors of many houses to see if they had a trash for me. In one day, I would collect up to 15 barrows of trash, my income was about 2500AFNs/$. In the last couple of years, there were not enough trash for all trash collectors, since many Aid organizations have left, and many expat hotels were closed due to security. I would make only six or seven barrows of waste a day, which means less income. The money I made every day I spent for food and to cover rent of the land where our tent is set. I remember us living in the tent over last 13 years. Life in the tent is very difficult, it is dusty in the summer, and it is cold in the winter. Today we have 15 family members live in the tent, among which are small kids, most of us work, but we still do not have enough money to buy a house.

The money I made every day I spent for food and to cover rent of the land where our tent is set. I remember us living in the tent over last 13 years. Life in the tent is very difficult, it is dusty in the summer, and it is cold in the winter. Today we have 15 family members live in the tent, among which are small kids, most of us work, but we still do not have enough money to buy a house.

Garbage collecting is not a stable job. Among the businesses I collected trash from was the T-O-M main office. One-day the Job Placement program manager of T-O-M contacted me. He offered me a job working as a guard in one of the businesses in Kabul. In the beginning, I was worried that I would not be able to work because all I saw and all I did in the past 11 years is collecting trash. I was excited and at the same time, I was not sure if I would be qualified for this position. I like working as a guard because it is clean and I have a chance for improvement, even though it is a lot of responsibility.  Today I have a stable job and a good salary. Today I am proud of myself and grateful to the Job Placement program. This new job gave me hope for a better future. There are still many boys on the streets that  make a living out of the trash, and each of them dreams to have a better life. They are like me end up picking up trash because there was no choice. Therefore, I dream and wish that every person would have options and choices in their lives.

Micro-Finance

At T-O-I, we believe that Micro-finance is a sustainable way to assist the poorest economically active people to improve their lives, provide jobs and livelihood for employees and their families and make a positive impact in their community as a whole. Our micro-finance loans allow clients to increase the size of their businesses to meet market demand and as a result create more income. With this income they are able to provide better schooling for their children, better housing for their family, more consistent food for their family, better healthcare for their family, etc. T-O-I directly impacts the multidimensional poverty indicators of its beneficiaries.

Additionally, as our clients grow their businesses they are generate a need for employees. Members of their community with the proper job skills meet this need. By providing a job for one member of the community you are not just providing for one person, but usually for a family of 4-8 people; 6 on average. Now the impact of a micro-finance loan that has allowed one business owner to increase his business has improved the lives of his family + his employee’s family = 12 people. We know that helping people improve their current business we can improve the lives of an exponential number of people, and this practice is already happening. By changing one life, we help countless other people.

What makes T-O-M program different?

T-O-M’s vision is to focus on building a world without poverty where people have access to resources and opportunities to improve their own lives.

T-O-M’s Mission:  Through micro-finance and skills development we enable the poor to improve their income and change their lives forever.

Social Performance of T-O-M principals:

“ No consumer loans, only business development to improve clients income and livelihood

“ We measure the improvement of the client’s financial situation before each partnership. If the client’s situation is has not improved we don’t give a partnership, but look at how to adjust the situation to improve the client’s situation. T-O-M must see improved income to the client and his family. T-O-M is interested on easing the burden on clients.

“ We measure the satisfaction of clients through surveys on T-O-M’s performance and staff following our core values.

T-O-M differs from other micro-finance companies, because our profits go back to the communities by way of social programs. T-O-M’s social performance department was created in January 2015.  The goal of this department is involved in measuring social performance and implementing social responsibility to build a strong relationship in the community, resolve racialism, fight against poverty, and help with the unemployment plague so many communities face today. T-O-M’s social performance department engages in helping some of the most at risk people. Providing job placement for orphans, widows and people with physical disabilities who tend to suffer more than the average person, especially in a downward economy.

Some of the Current Social Responsibility Programs of T-O-M:

“ The T-O-M Transition House that supports orphans as they transition from orphanage living to independent living.

“ Supporting economic empowerment through the Job Placement Program for Orphans, Widows, and those with physical disabilities.

“ Disaster Relief Program to serve communities when disasters occur.

“ DIY Handcraft Business start-ups for Afghan women and those with physical disabilities.

T-O-M currently is partnered with over 5,000 micro-businesses in Kabul, of which over 1,400 are businesses owned by women.  Since 2014, T-O-M has created over 110 jobs internally to Afghans.  To date, our Job Placement Program has placed 32 orphans, among them some with disabilities, 2 widows, and 1 man with a physical disability.  All of these people and are now self-sustainable, and in return contributing to the local economy. The T-O-M Transition House currently has 6 program participants and 10 more on the waiting list.  The DIY Handcraft Business Program is just getting off the ground this month with many anxious woman taking part.  The Disaster Relief Crew has already been out giving nonperishable food items to the victims and families of the Shah Shahid suicide attack that killed over 25 people and injured more than 400.  This is only the beginning of T-O-M’s work in Afghanistan. Join us in Repairing the World Together, One Life at a Time.

 TOM Performance Table, September 2015
 Number of Staff  151
 Number of active clients  5,198
 PAR (portfolio at risk) 30%  1.24%
 Gross Loan Portfolio (USD)   3,254,242
 Number of branches   2

 

 

 

Grand opening of new branch of T-O-M

Today, 1st of September 2015, more afghan people got an opportunity to improve their lives, because today T-O-M in Afghanistan has opened new branch.  The new branch opened its doors and welcomed all afghan people who are interested in developing their businesses.  T-O-M serves businesses and individual entrepreneurs by offering business investment services to help them develop their businesses.

Today governmental officials, district leaders and representatives of local and international NGOs came to the opening of the new branch. There were speeches given by the CEO of T-O-M and guests, such as the Executive Director of AMA, Najib Samim, wishing success to the new office.

The new microfinance product “musharaka” was also presented today during the opening. According to the Executive Director of AMA, T-O-M is a first company to offer the musharaka product to afghan businesses and the first company who will put it into practice.  According to the practices of other countries, musharaka is the most suitable for the economy of developing countries such as Afghanistan. T-O-M’s musharaka product conditions and requirements are based according to the Sharia law. All T-O-M business development officers are trained on the new product and have already provided services to clients.

T-O-M, as a part of T-O-I, has social performance and social responsibly at the core of its mission. Subsequently, the T-O-M Social Performance Manager introduced guests to the Social Performance and Social Responsibility programs being implemented by T-O-M. Currently a Transition Home for orphan boys, Job placement services for widows and orphans, handicraft design business development, and disaster relief programs are being targeted in Kabul.

At the end of the event there were fresh pastries served and guests were given souvenirs to remember the event.

We are grateful to be able to help and serve more people in Afghanistan. We believe that everyone has a right to opportunities that improve their lives and each person can help someone to Improve his/her life.

Waheed’s Story

What circumstances led you to live in children's home orphanage?

waheed-1I was 3 when my father was killed in the civil war, when Taliban was ruling here.  After he died, me, my younger sister and my mother were left alone. Therefore, we moved to live with my brother-in-law. My mother used to make money by washing clothes, and my brother in law was a baker and we could hardly afford our lives. This situation forced my mother to send me to a children’s house called “House of Flower Orphanage”, so I can get education and taken care of.

What it was like growing up in the children's home?

The first weeks were so difficult because I entered a whole new atmosphere away from my mother and younger sister. I couldn’t help it and most of the times I was homesick and crying until mother enrolled my sister in the orphanage. After this, everything got better for me and I started to blend in day by day. We had two female teachers and one male who taught us Dari alphabet and soon, I was qualified to join the first grade in an elementary school like other children. I studied hard and for most of the years, I was the top student in the class. I finished with high school in 2013.

What is your family life? Do you have siblings?

I grew up in a small family. My mother, me and three sisters which two of them are older than me and married and, a younger one who is also in orphanage.

What was your first job? How did you find it?

It was two years ago when I first met Mrs. Payne who visited the children house once in a while for to provide support for children. One day, she offered me to work for a microfinance company here in Kabul for half a day after school, and I accepted the offer without hesitation.

How has his job helped prepare him for life after the children's home?

My first job brought me a new life. Even though I made little money with my first job, but our financial situation improved and I could left the orphanage and join my family. I could support them now, pay my school and even save for myself. I learnt many things by working in an organization. It was inspiring, and also helped me to discover some of my potentials. For example, I become interested in the Human Resources sector and I would really like to work one day as a Human Resources Manager in an organization. This is because it deals with all staff and you get to meet many different people who come to join the company.

What is your future plans now after leaving orphanage and finishing school?

It is difficult to say what I am going to do in the future because I am young and I just entered college. But, what I would really like to do now is to continue my education to higher level and become a useful and valuable member of my family and society. 

A Widow’s Story

It was 2002, and the day started off like any other day, but this day ended differently, this day changed Fatima’s life forever.  What she had once considered a normal day, was no longer.  Fatima was now the product of war. 

Fatima’s family lived a comfortable life in Kabul, Afghanistan.    While war had reared its ugly head over the last 20 years, they had learned how to survive and make a living in spite of living in a war zone.   Fatima’s husband was the sole provider for the family, while Fatima stayed home to raise their 4 children.  They were not wealthy by any means, but they lived a comfortable life, they had a roof over their heads, food to eat, and clothes on their backs. 

Then one day all of that changed.   One day Fatima’s husband had left for work in the morning and never returned home.  Fatima tried to locate her husband, but to no avail.  She doesn’t know what became of him.  It’s possible he was a product of war himself and was kidnapped, taken prisoner, or even killed.  It’s possible he could not handle the pressures of trying to provide for his family, especially in a time of war, therefore ran off.  As the days passed by the realization of the situation started to sink in.  The money ran out and her babies were crying for food.  What was she to do, she had no skills, no education, and no one to watch her children. 

Fatima went into survival mode, she had to make decisions and choices that would keep her family alive.  Her two oldest daughters where in their teens and old enough to be married off.  By marrying them off, she would not have to feed them and provide for them, they would have a better situation than what she could give them.  Now with only 2 children to depend on her it definitely helped, but was it enough?  She did everything she could to bring in enough money to feed and provide for Abdullah and Najia, including washing other people’s laundry.  It was not long before she realized the sacrifice she made in marrying off her daughters was not enough to help feed the two children she still had at home. 

It was hard to find a job in Kabul at the time, let alone find a job with no experience or education.  She was quickly running out of options.  She had no one to turn to, not even family.  The culture says she could not go live with her daughters as they now belonged to their in-laws.  Every day was getting harder and harder, and the day finally came where she had to make another difficult decision.  She realized she could not provide for both of her children therefore, she found a children’s home that would take in 8 year old Abdullah.  This transition was very difficult for all parties.  Abdullah cried everyday wanting to go home to his mother and younger sister, Najia was crying missing her big brother, and Fatima was not only physically struggling trying to provide, but she was also emotionally struggling with having to once again split up her family.  She soon found it best to place 6 year old, Najia, in the children’s home as well.  By doing this Abdullah and Najia found comfort in each other and were able to adapt to the children’s home and soon both were thriving. 

While Fatima missed Abdullah and Najia terribly, she was content in the fact that they were being fed, able to attend school, and had a roof over their heads.  Which is far more than what she had.  After being in an out of women shelters Fatima was finally able to find a job cleaning the office of a local doctor.  This job came with a bonus, a very small storage closet that she could use to sleep in.  The one weekend a month that Abdullah and Najia came to visit her they would stay in the women’s shelter as the storage closet was too small for the three of them.  Fatima now had an income coming in, her monthly salary would vary from 1500 – 3000Afs ($26 – $50) a month, depending on how much extra work she could get washing clothes.  While this was a steady income it didn’t give her much extra beyond the cost of food, and as a result Fatima did without many things most people would call necessities.  For many winters Fatima did not have enough money to afford heat for her small room.  The winter temps in Kabul easily drop down to -15 degrees F. Night after night and year after year of suffering the extreme temperatures have brought physical challenges into Fatima’s life.

Fatima

It has been 12 long years since that dreadful day Fatima’s husband disappeared. Every day she has willed herself to get up and get through the day.  Her problems have not gone away and in many cases she has developed new problems. After sleeping on a hard concrete floor through all those winters, Fatima has developed several health problems.  These problems are hindering her from being able to work, but her life has started to turn around.  Abdullah and Najia have grown to become healthy, beautiful, and very smart young man and woman.  Abdullah has just started university and is now working and able to support Fatima.  He is a hard worker and is very determined to take care of his mother.  Najia is still at the children’s home and in two years will be graduating high school with dreams of becoming a doctor.  She is driven and won’t let anything stand in her way of reaching her goals.  The day to day life is still not easy for Fatima, but slowly it is improving. 

Razia is Selling Merchandise for Life

It’s 6:00am and 10 year old Razia is heading out the door.  With her back pack in hand, she heads to school anxious to learn all she can, but first she must make a stop.  Before going to school Razia has to go to work.  Her job, approaching strangers on the street trying to sell them chewing gum and magazines. 

Razia loves school.  She loves to learn and read anything she can get her hands on.  She is determined to make something of herself and save her family from the constant hunger pains that plague them all.  You see, Razia’a father was in the Afghan National Army and was killed by an IED (Improvised Explosive Devise) that was set by the Taliban.  Since her father’s death Razia, her mother, and her 4 younger siblings have all suffered.  Razia’s mother grew up during the Taliban years therefore she is uneducated and has no work experience.  All of Razia’s extended family lives in other countries, so there is no one here to help them.  Thus putting the weight of supporting the family on the shoulders of 10 year old Razia.

Razia gets up early each morning so that she can hit the streets trying to sell her wares to people on their way to work.  From 6:00am to 11:30am she approaches strangers trying to sell her items of chewing gum, magazines, and notebooks.  Her backpack is not only used for her school books, but it is also packed full of her items she sells.   On any given day Razia may make 80Afs ($1.41) in profits.  If she has a good day she may be able to afford buying a samosa (small meet pie) before going to school at 12:00pm, but most days this is not the case and she goes to school hungry.

Razia is a very intelligent and compassionate girl, but to look at her you would never know that she is 10 years old.  To look at her face one sees age that comes with hardship and turmoil.  The sparkle of being a happy carefree child is gone from her eyes.  Her body language is that of a mature adult who has lost all its youthfulness.  Her body now speaks determination and drive, determination to bring home enough money feed her family, drive to learn all she can so that one day she can get a good job making good money so that her family has everything they need. 

When she grows up, Razia wants to be a professor at one of the local universities.  She understands that education is important and wants to teach others.  By doing this she hopes the future of Afghanistan will be different, that maybe the next generation of children will not have to suffer the way so many children in her generation have suffered.  That women will be educated and able to work outside the home, that the economy will continue to improve, and that they can put the pain of war behind them. She has big dreams for a little girl. 

Microfinance Changes Lives

f-c-01Shakila, from Kabul who has been in a bad financial situation, having to support a family of eight children. “I have been looking for a way to improve this situation”. She started with carpet weaving, a craft she learnt when she was very young. Carpet weaving is both a passion for Shakila as well as a way to feed her family. Now, it is the only source of her income and she has been doing it for the past 23 years.

“Four years I ago, I met Ms. Alieh, a loan officer in “T-O-I Affiliate in Afghanistan” though a relative. I took a loan to expand my small source of income. With the aid of this money, the carpet weaving turned into a business for me. I could purchase a bigger weaving machine and enough material.”

“The loan helped me to stay independent. My daughters also started learning and working with me and developing this skill to later start their own business.“

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