In a globalized, inter-connected world, the tragic plight of women in Afghanistan excluded in a male-dominated Taliban regime inevitably reached and touched the hearts of women from other countries. One of these many women was Betsy Beamon from the United States.
The world changed after September 11th took place and it also ended Beamon’s 24-year career in aviation. A trip to Afghanistan during a year’s break from work opened her eyes to the plight of Afghan women and children trapped in a society that provided them with no means to fend or provide for themselves. This eventually led her to set up Women of Hope, a not-for-profit organization that wanted to enable women to be self-sustainable.
Her first project under Women of Hope was a hydroponic project that taught women how to plant their own food. Though that was short-lived because of circumstances, Beamon’s passion didn’t fade. With a growing community of volunteers and supporters behind her, her perseverance eventually led to her biggest project ever – the Embroidery Project.
The Embroidery Project supports more than 1,000 women who hand embroiders products like bookmarks, ornaments, pillow cases, aprons, table linens etc which are sold in the US and Afghanistan. Through Women of Hope, Beamon also established a Learning Center in Kabul, Afghanistan to teach these artisan women how to sell their handmade products, learn literacy as well as start up their own business. Equipping Afghan artisan women with skills that will find them jobs or help them create their own business means that they can in turn invest in their children and families.
Thousands of women have benefited from the Women of Hope project. Satara’s story is one of the many.
From a young age, Satara already had to find means to support her family. Without so much as an education, she managed to get by through the years by begging from door to door for food scraps and small change.
When Satara first came to the Learning Center, she was hoping to sell some pieces of embroidery she made out of old scraps of clothing. The exquisiteness of her handicraft work caught the attention of staff at the Center. Life took a turn for Satara at that point and even though she was simply equipped with the basic necessities required to embroider, such as needles, silk thread and fabric, Satara wept with all her heart because of the new hope she found through Women of Hope.
Today, Satara has earned enough to pay her sister’s way into school, has money for her mother’s medical expenditure and sufficient finance for food, clothing and housing. She is also one of the Center’s finest producers.
It is organizations like Women of Hope that have turned stories such as Satara’s from one that is heartbreaking to one that is joy-filled. With work, Satara knows she has a future and new hope in store for her.
Women of Hope handmade products by artisan Afghan women can be found at sites such as The Hunger Site.