I suggested hooking a Monthly Reflections Rug in order to see whether rug hooking, besides being creative, could also be spiritually transforming, like contemplation or meditation. What I didn't realize is how it would turn me to become more socially aware and active, not just introspective. Or maybe the introspection turned social at some point?
Whatever is the case, in October, in response to much soul searching about the theme 'serving', I decided to sign the dotted line and sponsor a woman victim of war through Women for Women International.
Photo: from Women for Women International website; picturing an unnamed woman in Afghanistan crafting a rug
I requested that I be matched with a woman in Afghanistan. For years I have been thinking about women in Afghanistan living under the Taliban and ravished further by an ongoing war, especially after viewing Kandahar, a movie (2001) that left me chilled when I saw it years ago.
Today my sponsorship packet arrived. The woman I am sponsoring is only a year younger than myself. She lives in Afghanistan where the life expectancy of men and women is 44 years old. I am 46. The woman I am sponsoring is 45. Unemployment is 40%. Per capita income is $1000. Literacy for females is 12.6%. Literacy for males is 43.1%. Access to safe drinking water? 13% of the population. The language of Afghanistan is a form of Persian known as Dari. "Hello" is "Salam". "Thank you" is "Tashakur". And "Goodbye" is "Khuda Hafiz".
What does my sponsorship do? For a year, the woman will be part of a group of 25 women who will become her support network as they go through an intensive training program. Each of these women will learn about women's rights, which will allow her to take greater control over the decisions that govern her life and that of her children. She will learn technical and business sills that will allow her to sustain an income. Upon graduation, she will receive direct cash and access to jobs or tools to start a business. Women who are enrolled in this program have become successful medicinal herb cultivators, livestock rearers, textile producers, jewelry artisans, shop owners and entrepreneurs.
I am excited to write my first letter to her and share with her that I hook rugs, a craft that crosses cultures and isn't limited by the boundaries of language or country. It transcends life's circumstances and allows for us to meet where otherwise we might not.