In the words of Afghanistan’s earthquake survivor Sayeeda: “I am infinitely happy that I can have supplies for winter and not go to bed hungry”

Sayeeda, who is more than 50 years old, has endured a difficult and challenging life. She can only see through one eye, her feet are badly damaged due to the strenuous work she did in her younger days, her hands are covered with blisters, and she walks and speaks with great difficulty. Nevertheless, she has no other choice but to do the back-breaking work of washing wool just to make ends meet. She lives alone in a village in Herat and was badly injured during the earthquakes. She is among the 550 women heads of household who were surveyed and selected to receive cash assistance from UN Women, allowing her to survive the winter with dignity.

A woman stands in front of her destroyed home after the devastating earthquakes. Photo: UN Women/Sayed Habib Bidell

“In the last few years, I have seen more goats in my life than food. Instead of the smell of food, I have been surrounded by the smell of fur.

The first day of the earthquake was like Judgment Day, and everyone was thinking about saving their own lives. I was so frightened that I fell while trying to escape down the stairs, and my head was severely injured. A neighbour took me to the doctor.

My son was martyred a few years ago, so I now live alone without any caregiver.

When I went to the doctor, I was told after the examinations that my head was injured and that I would need an operation, which would cost 150,000 afghanis. But I couldn’t afford this.

On the days of the earthquakes, [I was so afraid that] I slept outside on the wet ground that had just been irrigated.

Before this, I lived off charity and the help of other people.

I am infinitely happy that I [now] have supplies for winter and not go to bed hungry. I am very happy to have received this help. With this money, I will be able to meet my expenses for winter.

I am so happy that Allah knows I was awake from last night until morning, praying for [this assistance].”

Originally published on UN Women’s regional site for Asia and the Pacific