Afghan Woman Opens Restaurant-Funded Rehab

By Valerie Tejeda 10/09/12

One daring woman uses her restaurant in Kabul to fund "Mother Camp," her shelter and addiction treatment center.

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Customers wait for their food to arrive at
Haidari's restaurant.
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In a country that has been long-tormented by drug addiction, a former filmmaker has taken a bold and innovative approach to helping fund addiction treatment. Iranian-born Afghani Laila Haidari recently opened a restaurant in Kabul, the proceeds of which will help fund the treatment center and shelter she started there: "Mother Camp". Haidari visited Kabul a year ago for a film festival, but was so stunned by the addiction she witnessed in Afghanistan's capital city that she decided to stay and help out. "I was always thinking about what I could to do help [addicts] and protect them," says Haidari, who attributes her decision to her "maternal instincts." She says finding resources and a place to set up her rehabilitation center "was not an easy task," in part due to government corruption, and further complicated by her gender; she says her husband filed for divorce when she announced her business plans. But she succeeded in opening Mother Camp last fall, and was able to sustain it thanks to the income from her restaurant, Taj Begum. She says Mother Camp has treated 400 addicts, and is currently housing 27. "It was a heartbreaking scene for me because some of the addicts never thought that a woman like me could help them,” says Haidari, who plans to staff the restaurant with recovering addicts, to offer them a chance to rebuild their lives. Afghanistan currently produces about 90% of the world’s opium, the material used in making heroin, and is home to an estimated one-million drug addicts.

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Entertainment journalist and author Valerie Tejeda spends her days reporting on books, television, and all things pertaining to pop culture, and spends her nights writing novels for teens. Her stories have appeared on a variety of different publications, including but not limited to: VanityFair, MTV, The Huffington Post, TeenVogue, She Knows, Latina, The Fix, Salon.com, Cosmopolitan, and more. You can find Valerie on Linkedin and Twitter.

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