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Silkworm solutions

October 2011

Christian Aid reaches out to grassroots communities to provide long-term solutions to poverty, such as providing silkworms to Gul Shah, a 70-year-old widow from Herat in north west Afghanistan.

Herat was once a stop on the Silk Road trade route and has a long history of silk production. Funded through the European Commission Food Facility Funded programme, Gul was given silkworms by Christian Aid partner the Rehabilitation Association and Agriculture Development for Afghanistan, RAADA, so that she could cultivate silk to sell to a processing centre.


Gul was widowed 13 years ago and has children and grandchildren to support. Being involved with RAADA means that she has now set up her own business which is making a profit.

‘Only God knows how widows suffer in this country,’ she says. ‘It is difficult because there is nobody to help us buy food or to collect wood for the fire. I made £190 by cultivating silk from silkworms this year, so I was able to buy cotton for my loom and make cloth.

‘Before, I would get thread from others and weave it for them, but now I can afford to buy thread myself. Before, I was only meeting the basic needs of my family, but now I can buy good rice and vegetables and medicines.’ 

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