Monday, July 20, 2009

Selling Product in Afghanistan

Friday was the day to go to Camp Eggars and "set up shop". They have a bazaar on base every weekend and we're the only NGO (non-government organization) allowed to sell merchandise; all the other vendors are actual Afghan shop owners. The military men and women stationed at Eggars love to stop by and purchase some of our products as gifts for friends and family back home.

Setting up here is not too much different than setting up our other shows here in the States. Except we had to go through a lot of security checks to get our badges to go on base, plus wait an extra 30-45 minutes for them to let our car and driver on the base with all of our boxes and trunks or merchandise. We're all outside, but we have a large fold-up canopy for shade, not only for us, but to protect the product from the heat and direct sunlight. And it gets very hot out there when you're doing an outside sale in Afghanistan in the summer! Setup here was actually easier, because they'e done it so much, they have it almost down to a science. Tablecloths and tablerunners go in one place, pillow covers another, scarves in another, dolls in the trunk, clothes on the rack, etc..... Took less than a half hour to set up. We were ready to go way before the bazaar officially opened.

Business was steady all day long. We met so many wonderful military personnel, many of whom are some of our donors, and we felt like we already knew them. Everyone was extremely gracious and very interested in the work we are doing here. Thank you to all of our military personnel who supported us on Friday, and who support us all through the year! And thank you for doing such a wonderful job protecting us around the world!

Of course, we did make time to go around to the other vendors at the bazaar, and we were lucky enough to get some good deals on local merchandise. One of the vendors was a 15 year old Afghan boy who is an artist. An extremely talented artist who paints some of the most beautiful oil paintings we've seen. He's been painting since he was 9 years old. The details in his pieces are absolutely amazing. Three of us bought paintings from him, and one of them will be on display at one of the next Women of Hope Project sales in Virginia Beach/Chesapeake. Please watch this website or the Women of Hope Project Facebook page for dates.

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