Dear Friends who have traveled with Voices delegations to Afghanistan,
Hello from Chicago. Returning back here three days ago from Kabul, I felt like I was between homes, wanting very much to be connected and rooted in both, and yet 'thanking my lucky stars" for the chance to have been with friends in Kabul since late September.
In past trips, Voices delegates have written about Kabul women we’ve grown to know who, when we first met them, told us they thought they were going mad, becoming actually mentally unstable, from the stresses of inability to feed their children. The Afghan Peace Volunteers had invited these women to form a seamstress class at the APV home which now meets there every morning at 8:00 a.m.
We were a bit stymied, when Jody Tiller and I first arrived this past month, as to how they might sell their goods, avoiding exploitation by middlemen, to make a profit. Local merchants give them only a pittance for very hard work, a small fraction of the price their goods actually fetch at the bazaar.
We think a suggestion from Hakim is now becoming an exceptionally sensible solution.
When David Smith-Ferri and I left Kabul, these women were full tilt into plans for making comforters, - duvets as they’re sometimes called – which would be given free of charge to needy Afghan families. A harsh winter is on its way following last year's January that killed over 100 small Afghan children, 26 of them in Kabul's overflowing refugee camps. Assuredly, families most vulnerable to the terrible cold will need warm blankets to cover them all as they sleep.
The seamstress collective told us that women across Afghanistan, including themselves, know how to make “duvets,” -- large comforters stuffed with wool or cotton. They estimated the cost of producing one, factoring in a meager income to the seamstresses themselves, would be about $20 USD. If we can supply the money to get the project going, they can begin working to make duvets for donation to poor Afghans ...one woman likely completing two duvets a day with help from family she can now feed. The Afghan Peace Volunteers would help sew, and then store and distribute the duvets, as gifts, to needy families.
Voices co-coordinator Buddy Bell will leave for a three-week visit to Kabul on Tuesday of next week, carrying contributions from several donors eager to assist with the project.
We’ll be pleased to expand the duvet-making project as more funds become available.
If you’d like to help with outreach and fundraising, welcome aboard! Checks can be made payable to Voices for Creative Nonviolence, with “duvet project” written in the Memo section and sent to Voices at VCNV, 1249 West Argyle, Chicago, IL 60640.
Hakim coined the phrase: "Why not warmth?" Please feel free to adapt this letter if you’d like to send it out under auspices other than VCNV. What matters most is that we help distribute the heavy comforters before snow blankets Kabul.
With all good wishes,