“When I lost my husband, I had no choice but to move in with my brother,” said Bibi Hajra, a recently widowed resident of Sultan Shah village, Noshki district. “I often felt my children and I were an additional burden for my brother, who earned a meagre sum as a day labourer and was already struggling to provide for his own family.”

Life had not been easy for Bibi Hajra as a single mother. Each day started with her travelling long distances to reach houses in a relatively better-off neighbourhood — where she worked as a domestic worker. Eventually, the exertion from travelling for hours on foot and not having enough food to eat or safe water to drink began to take its toll on her [and her children’s] health. “The houses where I worked were a long distance away from my own home. Each day, by the time I reached the neighbourhood, I was already exhausted — my actual job of cleaning the houses still lay ahead of me,” she said.

Against the backdrop of severe poverty in the district, Bibi Hajra was not alone in her distress — other local women had similar predicaments. The household of Bibi Naik Bakht, another village local, also struggled to make ends meet. Her husband was away from home most days to search for work, even then, however, some days they did not have enough money to put food on their tables.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supported a stitching center where women were trained in embroidery and sewing. Bibi Hajra and Naik Bakht were two of eight women who benefited from the training.

"My situation has improved drastically. I now make PKR 5,000-6,000 on average from sewing and embroidering clothes — which is enough for me to run my household. I now have more time to spend with my children and my health is also improving. I feel completely at peace now,” says Bibi Hajra.

“I have a new lease on life. With these skills and with my own sewing machine, I make a healthy profit of PKR 6,000-8,000 each month,” said Naik Bakht. “I feel happier and more secure now,” she added happily.

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