Story of ‘Bahishta’ an activist for empowering women through education and awareness raising in Albania

Bahishta, a 24-year-old young woman from Afghanistan is currently staying in a hotel in Shëngjin, Albania with her family, where approximately 1500 Afghans are temporarily hosted since September 2021. She became engaged as a cultural mediator in one of the safe spaces aimed to support families and children. At a very young age she wanted to be a journalist. She has worked as a journalist for 3 years, in Afghanistan. She wanted to support women’s empowerment and to be a voice for all the women in Afghanistan. She was the first woman journalist that interviewed the Taliban, and one of the most active Afghan women in raising awareness of domestic violence.
Bahishta worked as a journalist in Afghanistan, but was forced to leave. “Since I left my country, I feel that I have lost everything, I do not have a chance to work and serve my people” …
Despite feeling that she could not do much to help her community members, this has changed with her active role as a cultural mediator in the mother and Baby corner (MBC), within the project providing psychosocial support led by the implementing partner Initiative ARSIS and IRC.
“One day an Albanian friend asked if I was interested to contribute and participate in activities organized in safe spaces for children, women and girls. I was very happy to have the opportunity to contribute as a cultural mediator and support Initiative ARSIS in developing and facilitating activities in the MBC. In the beginning I was confused, but when I thought about my society’ deprivation, and the experiences of my country women and children, I felt that I needed to work hard for those children, who will hopefully return to Afghanistan one day, and make it a better place.”
Bahishta takes pride in raising awareness and understanding of Afghan women on the possibilities of a better life. She does so by working with mothers and babies daily, through mutual learning, laughter, emotional support, and physical exercises. Despite not having prior experience in working with mother and babies, she feels content seeing women interested in attending the safe spaces and activities, and not missing any class. She gained knowledge about the child upbringing, improved communication and learns new skills herself. Bahishta believes she has achieved something big:
“When I saw that we can teach women things that they can practice in their everyday life, and also improve their behavior towards their children, I feel that there is a bigger purpose in everything we are doing.”