Dear Ibu Allies,
My family left our home country of Afghanistan in 1981, taking refuge in Pakistan and later, America. If not for the courage and good fortune of my parents, my story could have been the same as the women living in Afghanistan today. As one of the fortunate ones, I take it as my full responsibility to help the women of my hometown who could not leave.
My sister, Rangina Hamidi, returned to Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, to pay it forward in our home community of Kandahar. She wanted to create an opportunity for local women to earn wages instead of relying solely on donations for their livelihoods. The right to earn an income was the one thing Afghan women could pursue without being curtailed by community leaders. Financial independence was an incredible tool for Afghan women and Rangina dreamed of elevating their voices via their earnings. I pledged my full support; working alongside her in this mission has been an honor and my volunteer career for almost 20 years.
L: Rangina at Ibu's Global Champion event, March 2022. R: Rangina and KT employee discussing finances. Image with permission from Embroidering Within Boundaries by Rangina Hamidi and Mary Littrell. Schiffer Publishing, 2017. Photographer, Paula Lerner.
Supporting a holistic approach to sustainably alleviate poverty, the sale of beautiful hand embroidered products by KT changed the way Afghan women see the world and their place in it. The artisans employ a rare and unique embroidery technique called khamak, which is traditionally passed from mother to daughter in southern Afghanistan. Expertly hand-crafted scarves, clothing, table linens, and more are made for the western market, while they continue to embroider men’s tunics, girls’ wedding trousseaus, and baby linens for the local KT shop in Kandahar. The women stitch their hopes, dreams, and desires into embroidery as they grow in financial independence and respect through their work.
Click to watch a video of a KT artisan finishing tassels on a scarf (center). Photos from Embroidering Within Boundaries by Rangina Hamidi and Mary Littrell. Schiffer Publishing, 2017. Photographer, Mary Littrell.
Since the beginning, Ibu Movement has been one of Kandahar Treasure’s most loyal marketplace partners. Ibu’s design team works with us to create beautiful products specifically for their customers. The women of Kandahar bring these designs to life, staying true to the traditional embroidery techniques and working within the boundaries of their environment. Ibu’s continued orders of KT products have kept the women working during the toughest economic times, and have brought our story and our work to the Western market.
During the crippling waves of COVID-19 and government-mandated lockdowns, Ibu Foundation generously sent Kandahar Treasure $15,000 worth of emergency relief food packages to support the artisan women and their families.
Then, in 2022, the Ibu Foundation applied for and was awarded a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State to uplift the artisans of KT through business and personal training, operational support, and access to expanded markets. This grant has given new life to Kandahar Treasure and is only the beginning of the next chapter—increasing our reach, elevating incomes earned, and expanding employment opportunities. The women are learning how to manage their household budget for the first time and beginning to see themselves as talented artists who craft beautiful products for the conscientious buyer.
L: Rangina with Susan Hull Walker at KT X Ibu design session, March 2023. R: Stoorai, Rangina, and Hannah Blatt, Ibu director of artisan support, at announcement of State Department Grant.
The impact of Kandahar Treasure on the women who work here is tremendous—their earnings bringing food to their tables, shoes to their feet, and roofs over their heads. Kandahar Treasure currently employs a network of over 183 artisans and staff members and has plans for expansion.
What I would like to tell all of you—the movers in this movement providing the means and marketplace for women to rise into financial self-sufficiency—is to continue to exercise your purchasing power. The more Kandahar Treasure products that are sold through partners like Ibu Movement, the more sustainable employment and training opportunities can be provided for these brave and resilient women of Kandahar. We are working with the Ibu team to create some exciting new product lines and designs. Thank you for your support, which allows me to continue this work of honor in lifting up my sisters back home.
Sales & Operations Manager