Meena's story. The recipe of freedom

Cooking had always been just a hobby for Meena, but when the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan, that same passion for cooking saved her.

Meena used to work in an office, but when the Taliban returned in, August 2021, she was left without a job and without money all of a sudden. They took her future away. But she couldn’t and didn’t want to stand still. By word of mouth, she discovered the vocational training and business marketing courses organized by NOVE. Some of the women who attended the courses wanted to become seamstresses, others wanted to be beauticians. Meena chose to become a pastry chef.

She started a home bakery with her daughter Fatima and they started to receive orders. Mostly cookies and birthday cakes.


I’m in the kitchen all day long. My daughter is 18, she wanted to continue studying but she couldn’t. So, I’m teaching her pastry-making. My son, instead, is helping us with home deliveries.


Meena started her business from scratch, with little to no equipment at her disposal. Yet, after a few months, it was already going so well that she managed to move the bakery to a rented space and help other women.

Due to the ban imposed by the Taliban, at the moment, many women at the head of the family cannot make a living and feed their children. Many of them are forced tobeg for money on the streets. Meena has given work to fifteen women, so far.


They didn’t only have money problems. The ban preventing women from studying and working had a very negative impact on a psychological level, some of them suffered from depression. Now they feel considerably better.


It was not in Meena's plans to make bread and pastries but this activity gave her a new hope. A reason to believe that one day she will see her dreams come true. First of all, that her daughter will smile again.

Meena participated in the “Vocational Training, soft skills development and business marketing course” project organized by NOVE. The project was funded by the World Food Programme. In order to improve the living conditions of Afghan women and promote their socioeconomic independence, the project offered vocational training for those female professions that were still allowed. Vocational training was combined with soft skills and business courses. The 53% of women who completed the course found a job or managed to start a business on their own.