Turquoise Mountain Foundation Compound
Kabul Afghanistan 8:25 p.m.
Today we spent the whole day on our very own unsupervised outing. We called Zuhaak, one of the international- and expat-friendly car services here in Kabul, and arranged for one of their fixed-rate (200 Afghanis, or $4 US) rides across town to visit with a woman running a small but extremely hands-on local NGO. Betsy is an American woman who, three months after 9/11, quit her job after 25 years with US Air and moved here to Afghanistan to try and do something, anything, to help out the people of Afghanistan.
Betsy is the nerve-center of Women of Hope, a growing group of Afghan women crafters and embroiderers, helping them with encouragement, administration and marketing of their goods to the international crowd here in Kabul as well as seeking direct markets in the USA. (That’s where Dharma Boutique comes in.) Monday is the day that the women come in and bring what they’ve made in the previous week, so we had a chance to interview several women as well as Betsy, and of course peruse and put together an initial purchase of their hand-embroidered cotton shawls, and recycled burqas (!) made into little “bottle burqas” for wine or water bottles. Unnecessary, sure, but also a very powerful symbol of how much work we humans have ahead of us in order to build societies of equal opportunity for men and women, white and black, gay and straight.
I’m very psyched to be bringing home at least some goods from Afghanistan that really are perfect embodiments of fair trade and of using conscious trade to share stories and cultures and truly improve people’s lives—awesome.