HERAT, Afghanistan – It’s a place of endless prayer. Every day, the community center at Hous-Karbas plays host to weddings, funerals, and hundreds of children who recite the Quran for hours in an upstairs room.
Here, Afghan women also socialize, learn stitching or shed illiteracy by taking classes. “In so many ways, this place has been an answer to our prayers,” says Safia Ghulami, a member of the community development council (CDC), which helps oversee activities at the center in the Enjil district, on the outskirts of Herat city in western Afghanistan.
Together with nine men and seven women on the CDC, the group applied for funds from the National Solidarity Program (NSP) four years ago to build the center.
NSP is the Afghan government’s flagship program aimed at strengthening and developing communities, supported by the World Bank, Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), and several bilateral donors.
Under the program, communities elect their own CDCs, which then set about determining their priorities. So far, about 80% have pursued infrastructure improvements such as water supply, irrigation, roads, and electricity.
Improved village life
In Hous-Karbas, where about 1,000 families earn their income primarily from farming, tiny factories, and irregular manual jobs, a community center was needed because there was no space to gather in large numbers, says CDC head Haji Abdullah.
“This was very important for us, to have a place for celebrations, but also so more of our children could study the Quran,” he says.