Razima was 15 years old when she migrated from Afghanistan to Pakistan to escape the war - in 1988. At the Baghicha refugee camp where she lived, she came to marry one of the security guards, settled in Peshawar, and cared for her 9 children. When a tragic accident paralyzed her husband, leaving him unable to work, she turned to her embroidery skills to pay for his medical expenses and support her family.
Razima is one of hundreds of thousands of families who poured across the border from Afghanistan when fighting began. Now, hundreds of those women, Razima included, earn a steady living - where no other opportunity for income exists - through Artisan Links, a non-profit set up 29 years ago to assist displaced women.
Women with Artisan Links embroider the Ibu tunic and caftan
For the past 2-3 years, the Ibu design team has worked with these women to transplant the precise embroidery of their shattered past into something new. We started with a pillow, tried a jacket, ran into obstacles - not with skills but with available fabrics - and ended up with a caftan and a tunic - the kind we know you love. But better. We're excited.
Then COVID hit, and with their government requiring the women to stay home, work delayed another 5 months (!). Can I tell you how wildly happy I am to see this beauty arrive at last? The work is astonishing. The fabric drapes beautifully and the design, though ancient, translates into something very modern, clean, minimal. It looks fabulously strong.
Turns out, although 5 months late, these caftans and tunics did arrive in perfect time - dark in color and light in weight - as you and I are looking toward September and the shortening of our days. While for Razima, we hope the darker days are behind her. The light, now, is only getting brighter.