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Haffiz's Story

Haffiz opens the glass door and, with a big smile, welcomes customers in perfect English with a slight French accent.

The bakery shop he manages sells a variety of French pastries, breads, savory turnovers, pies and cookies.  In the heart of Kabul, Afghans and foreigners can enjoy fine French baking.

It has been almost 10 years since Haffiz, then a timid, small boy, knocked at Le Pélican's gate. He said he wanted to register at the center because he had heard it was a place he could get a good education and also a hot meal each day. His voice, cloaked in shyness was very soft, almost inaudible. His mother asked the expatriate in charge to come and visit her home.  During the visit, it was apparent this family needed urgent help. The father earned a very little and was unable to support his family.  The hard work of the children and their mother making carpets was the family's only means of survival.

Haffiz loved the lessons and worked hard on his studies, especially the English.  He never missed a day.  Each year Haffiz passed the exams and advanced to the next grade. In 8th grade, Haffiz, then 13, became an apprentices of Le Pélican's director who had started a vocational training program in French baking. Haffiz loved to learn these new skills and understood that they offered him an opportunity to make money in the future which could help support his family. The pay he received for his apprenticeship in the bakery was a great help already, and since this job was done early in the morning he could continue his studies at Le Pélican with the other students.

When the time came for Le Pélican to expand the vocational training and create a café where the bakery apprentices could learn hospitality skills, Haffiz wanted to join the team.  After 2 years of being a bakery apprentice, he became a waiter, an assistant cook and a salesperson. When the expatriate directors were away, Haffiz oversaw the cash flow and bookkeeping.  His math and English skills were a great help.

After three years the café was closed due to security concerns.  Having been well trained, Haffiz found a job at an international restaurant in Kabul.

When Le Pélican opened a bakery downtown, Haffiz came back and became the shop's manager earning substantial salary.  Haffiz’s story shows how a good education, significant help and a willingness to work can change a life.

Ten years ago, Haffiz came from one of the poorest family the Le Pélican had ever helped. This young boy was almost illiterate when he enrolled but because of his courage, perseverance and hard work, he built a better life for himself and his entire family.  Haffiz continues to support his family through his job at the bakery and is also pursuing further studies.

Haffiz is now 17. He is a tall, strong young man, full of energy, ambition and charm who will welcome you with a broad grin if you visit Le Pélican's bakery in Kabul!

"Haffiz loved the lessons and worked hard on his studies, especially the English.  He never missed a day.  Each year Haffiz passed the exams and advanced to the next grade."