By Army 1st Lt. Lory Stevens
Special to American Forces Press Service
Dec. 2, 2008 - More than two years of work on the part of a cultural leader in Afghanistan's Panjshir province is coming to fruition with the completion of a chicken coop. The project in the province's Anaba district was one of the main topics when the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team's new women's affairs team met with Brishna Yaftali, director of the Marwa Cultural Development Organization, to discuss ways to improve the lives of Afghan women.
When the Panjshir PRT provided funding two months ago, Yaftali was able to take chicken coops to villages in the district. She brought in female teachers to train 150 families, and she has regularly checked in on the progress herself.
Yaftali said she has been working for more than two years to get the chicken coop project funded and accepted by the local villages of Anaba. She said it was difficult to gain the support of villagers, and that the original attempts were turned down because they were led by men. Yaftali said she revisited the villages numerous times, promoting the project and hitting new hurdles with each encounter.
"Out of respect, I would wear a burqa and try to show the people that being an educated female won't hurt your women or children, but help the family," she said.
The chicken coops are made from concrete, brick, wood and chicken wire, and are strategically placed in individual compounds. Each family received 13 hens and two roosters, as well as instructions on how to care for them.
"Families keep half of the eggs and sell the rest," Army Spc. Amanda Cutler, a member of the women's affairs team, explained.
Yaftali said she hopes this is just the beginning of women's projects in Panjshir and throughout Afghanistan. In the spring, the U.S. Agency for International Development plans to fund additional chicken coop projects for Panjshir in the districts of Khenj, Dara and Paryan.
(Army 1st Lt. Lory Stevens serves in the Task Force Warrior Public Affairs Office.)