Gudia, right, applying makeup to a customer

Gudia, a recent student at a vocational training center in Pakistan, had been working at a brick kiln since she was a child with her mother, father, and two brothers. Her family worked 7 days a week, 12 hours per day each, and together earned only $12 a week. They ate only one meal a day. Gudia says, “We are not workers, but slaves. I had been looking for ways to live a free life, and since I joined the beautician training, I have started having the taste of that freedom as a woman, as a human being.” She has completed her training and now as a beautician makes $80 per month, almost twice as much as her entire family before.

SowHope’s partner in Pakistan, Sister Zeph, the Director of the ZWEE Foundation, envisions a place where impoverished women in Pakistan can get free vocational training in areas such as sewing, cosmetology, IT, office management, and fashion design. She says, “Women in Pakistan are living as slaves because they are financially dependent on men and because of cultural taboos, religious pressures and intolerance against minorities, and lack of awareness of their own talents and abilities. We want to set them free from all these cages; but of course, the freedom starts with financial independence.”

Imsha is 18 years old. Her mother died when she was a little girl. Her father wanted to get married again, so he had Imsha married when she was just 14. Her husband died 2 years later, so she returned home. However, her father did not want to feed her anymore. She had not eaten for days when someone told her about Sister Zeph’s project. At the center, they gave her enough so that she at least would also have food and shelter. After completing her training as a tailor, she now works in a garment factory and makes enough so that she can afford to live independently. “SowHope is the first ray of hope for the women. We have been working for years to lift each other up, but now we are flourishing because we are not alone anymore in this journey of women’s achievements at the grassroots level.” says Sister Zeph.