ARZU, which means “hope” in Dari, is an innovative model of social entrepreneurship that helps Afghan women weavers and their families break the cycle of poverty by providing them steady income and access to education and healthcare by sourcing and selling the rugs they weave. While structured as a 501(c)(3) in the United States and an international NGO in Afghanistan, ARZU operates as a “for-benefit” corporation, using private sector practices to create jobs in desperately poor rural villages where little opportunity exists. http://www.arzustudiohope.org/default.aspx
Here is a bit more about some of the great work they’re doing.
ARZU strategically focuses on addressing Afghanistan’s highest public health priority – lowering the maternal death rate. Our healthcare services include weekly visits by our health monitors to weavers’ homes, 4-wheel drive transportation to clinics and an emergency mobile phone calling system for each village. ARZU accompanies pregnant women and newborns to clinics for check-ups, immunizations and emergency care. As a result of ARZU’s interventions, zero women under ARZU’s care have died during childbirth.
To help scale this maternal health outreach, ARZU partnered with the Ministry of Health to provide Assistant Midwife and Community Healthcare Worker training in Bamyan. Our first graduating class of 20 Midwives and 30 Community Healthcare Workers (CHWs) now provides health services to some 20,000 rural villagers. In 2010, ARZU will trained an additional 20 CHWs and midwives.
CLEAN WATER INITIATIVES
In Afghanistan, where 75% of people lack access to clean water, ARZU is piloting innovative ways to provide relief for this major health problem. In March 2008, we completed the construction of a water catchment tank in one arid village in northern Afghanistan. In 2010, ARZU will pilot a household water-filter mold-making apprenticeship program in Bamyan. This program will provide economic empowerment opportunities while simultaneously addressing and correcting the water needs in this region.