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New Restaurant in Kabul Helps Addicts Start Over

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Taj Begum, which translates to "Woman's Crown," is a new restaurant in Kabul giving Afghan drug addicts the opportunity to learn new skills and improve their lives.

In a country where poverty and war are common, and there aren't many treatment options for opiate addicts, Laila Haidari’s project is revolutionary. She borrowed $26,000 from friends to open the restaurant and plans to staff it with addicts from the shelters she runs.

Haidari cared for her opium-addicted brother for years, and after witnessing the suffering of so many users, she decided to take action.

"I was always thinking about what I could to do help them and protect them," Haidari said.

About a year ago, she opened two shelters—one for men and another for women and children. Haidari estimates these shelters have already helped hundreds of addicts.

And despite her husband filing for divorce when she announced her plans for the restaurant, Haidari opened its doors earlier this month.

The restaurant, currently employing 17 former addicts, serves Afghan, Iranian, and Turkish food and doubles as a shelter for other addicts.

"I am tired of using drugs because I cannot face people's harassment any more," said Masoma January, a waitress at Taj Begum. "Now I hope to live without drugs. I am thinking of my sons. They are innocent. I don't want my background have a destructive and dark effect on my sons' lives," she added.

Source: Reuters