Ever since Zahra Rahimi was in third grade, she dreamed of being a faculty member at Herat University[[https://hu.edu.af/en]] in Afghanistan. In 2016, she earned a veterinary science degree from Herat University. Although she had all of the qualifications, she said she was unable to get the faculty job she had hoped for.
Rahimi is one of the individuals who benefited from Amanda Deering's work in Afghanistan - in particular, she benefited from the women-only trainings described in this video. I had the chance to talk to Rahimi about her experiences at Heart University and with the water quality project that Deering participated in.
Rahimi said that one of her professors at Herat University recommended that she look into the new project spearheaded by Purdue University, the University Support and Workforce Development Program (USWPD), and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The project was geared toward rebuilding Herat's food technology department by providing training about water quality testing and education. At first, the project was focused more for men, but then Deering began a series of women-only trainings in Afghanistan. Rahimi was among the first women to benefit from the project.
Rahimi said she contributed to research in several areas during her trainings. As a result, she was able to get an internship with Afghan Red Gold, a company that exports saffron. At Afghan Red Gold, Rahimi said she used her research skills and helped improve the quality of the company's saffron exports. Rahimi's work allowed the company to completely eliminate the amount of saffron being rejected at the border, she said.
Rahimi said that Deering's women-only trainings provided Rahimi with experience and connections that she used to get a job working for USWPD and USAID at Herat. Rahimi credited Deering with empowering her to reach her goals by teaching her different lab skills that she uses every day. Recently, Rahimi presented a workshop that taught similar skills that the project had taught her.
Having the opportunity to work with individuals from around the world has opened many doors, Rahimi said. She continues to build her career in Afghanistan. She recently contributed to a research paper that focuses on rebuilding research to improve Afghanistan's water quality and reduce foodborne illnesses. Starting this fall, she will start a position that will build on her work in the saffron industry.
While her career path is quite different than her original goal, Rahimi said she is thankful for the opportunities that Deering and the rest of the Purdue team provided and that she is excited for where those opportunities are taking here.
This video is part of the Visionaries series, which highlights the work and lives of researchers in the Purdue University College of Agriculture. Visionaries is a collaboration with Envision magazine.
Read out a related Envision story about the Purdue team's work in Afghanistan, Taking the Land-Grant Model Global
Learn more about Purdue Afghanistan programs
The videos were created by the student filmmakers of YDAE 491 (Digital Storytelling), part of the agricultural communication program in the Purdue Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication.
The team members for this video are: Shoko Nakatake (leader for this video), Rebecca Carmeli-Peslak, Hayley DeHaan, and Myra Rademacher.