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Helping Afghanistan One Cupcake at a Time

Why a Christian couple trains Kabul's women to bake, cook, and keep house for Westerners.
2005This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

Let's add some sunflower seeds," Donna told three Afghan women as she taught them how to bake streamlined batter bread out of a Betty Crocker recipe book.

With firm hands yet a gentle grip, she demonstrated mixing the batter to Farhana, Nazifa, and Rozama. They have been perfecting some Western baking recipes for weeks at the Women's Center in Kabul, Afghanistan. Soon enough, they will also train other Afghan women how to make Western breads and cookies.

But beyond helping the three women become Western cooks—and thus making them more employable—Donna has something else in her heart that she wishes they could learn. "I wish they would know Jesus," she prayerfully murmurs as she thinks about the Muslim ladies.

Since August 2004, Donna and her Afghan American husband, Aziz [for security reasons, only first names are used in this article], have been managing the center. It is run by a private organization in Kabul that seeks to teach Afghan women how to become cooks and maids to service Western homes. The center also operates schools for orphans in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

A few weeks ago, the Women's Center achieved a breakthrough. A major charitable group called and placed a standing order for 500 cupcakes per week. "Westerners love these baked goods," Donna said.

Some training programs are self-sustaining, but Donna and Aziz have also developed a network of American supporters. Many donors are from Saddleback Church in Southern California (pastored by Rick Warren).

"My family thought I was crazy for coming back here after enjoying a good life in America," says Aziz, 54. "But I've come here for a reason. God loves my people, and I've come here because of that love."

Afghan Roots

Aziz was born and raised in Kabul. At ...

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