In Her Words / A Letter from Ibu artisan partner, Tahira Afridi

In Her Words - Tahira Afridi

Dear Ibu Allies, 

My name is Tahira Afridi and I am the director of Artisan Links in Peshawar, Pakistan. I began working with women refugees from Afghanistan in 1996—volunteering through a Danish non-profit—and finding that work my passion, never looked back. I became a product designer and later general manager. I find such joy in witnessing the creation of beautiful, hand-embroidered pieces by humble and loving artisans. The women are separated from their homeland, but are eager to keep their embroidery traditions alive and earn income to feed their families.

For many years, our greatest challenge was security.  Peshawar, where our operations are located, was an epicenter of terrorist activities. In 2017, the non-profit decided to close its doors, and I took over the organization and renamed it Artisan Links. Even with the transition, the team remained relatively intact. Around 1,000 artisans depended on orders from us, and we couldn't just abandon them. Slowly and gradually, we built back up the organization.

Artisan Links in Peshwar, Pakistan

Securing enough work for our artisans is always a challenge. Without orders, we cannot pay the women, and we also lack the funds to market their products. Covid made it impossible to attend international trade shows and bring in orders from abroad, When we shut down the office for a few months, calls from our artisans poured in requesting work. I reopened the office with just a few staff members, using donated funds from friends and family to sustain us. Our hard work began paying off and gradually our customers began to return. Currently around 850 women are impacted by Artisan Links. Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, many of our artisans already living in Pakistan have had relatives cross the border to join them—women also looking for work.

Women of Artisan Links with new equipment from the Ibu Foundation.

Ibu always, always helps by placing generous orders, which provide income for the families. We are also able to employ some of the newly arrived refugees with the recent Ibu orders placed.

The Ibu Foundation has granted funds to Artisan Links to update and expand our work space. Due to lack of space and old equipment, we struggled to effectively and efficiently run the workshop. Our furniture and out-of-date sewing machines needed constant repair. We are so grateful to the Ibu Foundation for the funds to make these improvements, and look forward to all being completed by the end of April. These enhancements have tremendously helped to ease workflow and improve esteem.

Ibu truly has become a beacon of light for our artisans, directly helping around 30 to 40 women per order. Your donations and purchases create hope and make a tremendous impact for the talented women—and their families—with whom we work.

With gratitude,
Tahira Afridi
Director, Artisan Links