House of Hope: Post-Release Transitional Programme for Women Leaving Prison in Kabul

6 June 2011 - As of January 2011, Afghanistan's prisons house nearly 600 women and over 280 minors who reside with them. A lingering concern is what happens to these women and their children once they are released.

In response to this concern, UNODC, in partnership with relevant government ministries and the non-governmental organization Women for Afghan Women (WAW) opened the first post-release transition house in Kabul for women leaving prisons named House of Hope (Khane Omid), last week.

"Residents of the post-release transitional house will be expected to keep the house in order, do all cooking and cleaning. All residents will be expected to work and contribute to the rent and cost of food so as to assist them in practicing money management", said Mr. Collie Brown, Prison Reform Project Coordinator.

The House of Hope has a capacity to accommodate between 20-25 women and their children at any time. The women residing in the post-release transitional house will be provided with: basic literacy classes (math, reading, and writing); life skills classes - to include money management, parenting, women's rights in Islam and Afghan Law; vocational training and job placement assistance; access to addiction treatment; individual and group counseling; access to basic health care services; family counseling and mediation when applicable; facilitation of family-reunification whenever applicable with a minimum six month follow-up period; and facilitation of reintegration into the community.

Additionally this programme will support women leaving prisons in finding jobs in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and other provinces where women might want to settle.

WAW will also train women who might be interested in jewelry making on a professional level. The New York City based jewelry designer Global Goods Partners will create models that should appeal to international consumers. The women will receive a percentage of the profits and thus be able to earn money.

"From these earnings, they will learn how to budget for food, rent, transportation, personal expenses, and savings. Once employed, clients will work closely with staff to bank the money they earn so they have available funds when they are transitioned out of the programme", said Manizah Naderi, the head of WAW.

UNODC in partnership with WAW also opened the post-release transitional programme in Mazar-e-Sharif.