Saturday, July 18, 2009

Meet our Embroiderers!

Thursday was the day to meet all the ladies who do such lovely embroidery on our products. Again, we are so sorry that we can't get pictures up of all of their work, but as soon as we get back, we will do that. Or if the internet here decides to speed up we'll do our best.

The ladies arrived throughout the day to bring new items they had embroidered, and to be paid for the items sold the previous week. Many of these ladies also took orders for new items, for things ranging from embroidered coats, cosmetic bags, clothing, tote bags, etc. Many of you have purchased items in the past from us, so you are already familiar with their work. And we are close to having the ability to take orders through the website. We hope to have this feature up and operating for the holiday season. Keep watching the website for the announcement, and we will also be sending out an announcement in our newsletter.

And if you're not a newsletter subscriber already, please send your email address to and we'll add you to it.

The products the women make (clothing, table cloths, place mats and napkins, dolls, pillow covers, aprons, etc.) are all carefully examined by our design staff to ensure they are good quality, and suggestions are made for improvement when necessary. When items are accepted, they are sold on consignment, both here in Afghanistan and in the U.S. We are constantly looking for retail establishments to carry these items, and if you know of anyone who would be interested, please email us at the address above.

The Embroidery and Design Project started by accident. A women came to the Center to meet with the Director and showed her a beautiful piece of embroidery which had been done on a dirty gray piece of cloth. That gave WOHP an idea that if the women were this talented, we could help them develop their talents into marketable products. When the project first started we had just a handful of women coming with their work. But before too long, there were more women than the project could handle. So, it was decided that there would be a limit of 100 women that we would work with personally, but that they could have others working for them, making product. These women would then be in charge of paying the others, thus starting their own business. At last estimate, we probably have over 1,000 women working under WOHP's Embroidery project. And because of the money they are making, all of their children are able to attend school.

The women we met are all different types. Some wore burqas, some just hajibs. (headscarf) Some were dressed in sparkling dresses, and some in simple outfits. Some brought their children. All of them, of course, walked here to the Center because women don't drive in Afghanistan. Not that we blame them.

Their embroidery work is amazing. If any of us sat in a chair for a year with a needle and thread, we couldn't make anything so beautiful. We wouldn't even know where to start. They don't use patterns -- and the back of the piece looks as good as the front. The women were wonderful. One of our ladies is married to an artist. He draws the pictures on the fabric, and she does exquisite embroidery for the pillow covers. We have requested a number of special order pieces from her, and hope to have some of the samples when we get back. In all honesty, we've never seen such magnificent work.

By the time the day was over we'd probably met with at least forty women, if not more. If only we could have talked personally to all of them, but we only had one interpreter, and she was extremely busy. Most of the ladies spoke only Dari, some a little English, and one woman brought her daughter who was practicing speaking English with us.

By the end of the day we were all exhausted, but it was a good exhaustion. Actually meeting these wonderful women for the first time was an experience none of us will forget. We have made new friends, even though they are across on the other side of the world.

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