Dear Ibu Allies,
My name is Rangina Hamidi and I am the founder of Kandahar Treasure in Afghanistan, established in 2008. My family and I immigrated to the US in 1988 when I was 11 years old. If my parents had not left Afghanistan, and I had survived the decades of violence and destruction of the country, I would be one of the women I am working with today—not able to complete my studies, married with at least seven children and/or widowed, and desperate to improve the lives of my children, but with no opportunities.
What drives me to work with the women of Kandahar is that they did not choose the situation they are in today. They have been pushed into this lifestyle by social, economic, and political realities created by men without regard to the wellbeing of women and children. Kandahar Treasure is creating a small window of opportunity for women to reshape their future and that of future generations. By earning an income, these artisans take ownership of their health and wealth, and open the doors to educational opportunities for their children when possible.
As the world's male leaders fight politically for Afghanistan’s future and point fingers blaming one another, the women of Afghanistan must continue to survive and provide for their families. Even providing a modest meal can be a struggle. With this burden, the women of Kandahar Treasure have taken the risk of continuing to work to provide for their children with integrity. When the women decided to resume their work in early October 2021, I reached out to Ibu and not only did we receive a large order, but also a grant to purchase emergency food rations. With the donation from the Ibu Foundation, we were able to provide bulk food items to 75 families! When the women of Kandahar Treasure received the supplies, they graciously thanked all of the donors who contributed and added with one voice, please give us more work so we can continue to provide for ourselves!
At the moment, with the Taliban back in power and their consistent restrictions on women and girls, our greatest challenge is not knowing what the future holds for us as a country and as women. The rules and regulations change daily and it is impossible to predict what the Taliban will say next, or how the international community will respond. This uncertainty makes each day that we can provide work to the women of Kandahar Treasure a gift.
Kandahar Treasure currently employs 120 artisans working in their homes producing piece-work and eight women working full time in the headquarters. More desperate women are asking to be included in our workforce daily. If we were able to open our doors, we could easily have more than 1,000 artisans working for us in a matter of weeks! The more orders we can confirm, the more women we can employ. This is why I say, purchasing from the Ibu marketplace is doing charity with integrity!
Some universal human principles and values exist across cultures, languages, religions, and ethnicities. One of those intrinsic human values is the notion of honor and integrity. Living an honorable life is the dream of every soul. The work that Ibu supports provides that honor to the beautiful Afghan women who create exquisite things. Sharing their talent and tradition gives our women artisans the pride needed to live their lives with heads held high. This is the change agent that will impact families, communities, and countries for years to come.
Founder, Kandahar Treasure, and Former Secretary of Education, Afghanistan