In August of last year, as the Afghan government fell to the Taliban, my heart raced to our artisan partners there, wondering about their safety, their leaving or staying; though our queries simply fell into the unspeakable chaos of those days.
When at last we established contact with Artisan Links, our partner in Pakistan working with Afghan refugee women near the border, we learned that 200 women had arrived, joining the 600 women who have crossed the border in years past, fleeing war and more war.
Some, like Bilqees in the video below, have lived there for 30 years. Many are second-generation refugees whose parents fled the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Now the women number 800. Through Artisan Links, they turn the heritage skills of their hands into a livelihood. Ibu offered to buy whatever pieces the women had already made, knowing the funds would allow for the purchase of more supplies for new refugees as well.
Sometimes in the land of in-between, steady work brings not only bread, but ballast.
Our Ibu Foundation had already begun working with Artisan Links to provide additional space for the women to work, now especially crucial as numbers grow. The adjoining room to their workshop has been secured; the work is expanding. I heard from the vibrant director, Tahira Afridi, this week, who wrote:
And so, the needle carries their hope, one stitch at a time, covering cushions and bags and eyeglass cases—even the streets these women would cover in stitches - if only that would pave a path for their children to flourish.
Thank you for joining me in giving our solid support to these women living in the in-between. Sometimes, I think, home is not where you came from, but where your children are going.
All the Best,