On September 27 of this year, the Taliban unleashed a furious rocket attack on the Kabul airport, protesting the US Secretary of Defense visiting the capital, yet killing and wounding civilians and destroying nearby houses. Underneath the rubble and chaos were boxes of Ibu shawls.
Our colleagues in India had agreed to hand-spin and weave their buttery soft pashminas that we love in a simple, luscious black and send them to Kabul for the women there to embroider - since, after months of searching, we couldn't find the quality fabric we wanted in Afghanistan. Knowing violence in their own area of Kashmir, the weavers were happy to help us out and whipped up an order of midnight-black luxury.
I learned of the attack at the same time I learned that the shawls had arrived at Hamid Karzai airport. Who could even get there to pick them up through all of the security detail and rocket-sized debris? We had no choice but to wait, hoping our shawls wouldn't get lost in the wreckage. Because - and here’s the kicker - they were heading to women in Kabul who wanted to embroider on them their hope for Peace.
By some astonishing miracle, the pashminas made their way eventually to the women of Zarif Design, where Zolaykha Sherzad oversees a remarkable group of artisans. In that war-saturated city, women arrived at work the next day to begin, again and yet again, to embroider an illusive peace on the soft fabric of their dreams. The stitches look like graceful waves spilling over one's shoulder. Waves of the word peace, written in Farsi.
The Peace Pashminas have arrived at last at Ibu, and we are so honored to offer these to you. I couldn’t imagine a more meaningful gift to bestow on another at the time of this holiday gift-exchange, when we reach for the highest in one another, when we lift our hopes to the light and celebrate resilience and possibility.
As I write, perched on the eve of Thanksgiving, I add to my cornucopia of thanks this small miracle. That women around this fragile, anxious, war-weary world, are still getting up each morning to embroider the torn places with their hope. Their imagination. Their determination. These are true Ibu, and there is a whole world of them, and we are a part of their hope.
I want to say this day, more than any day - blessings on your family and friends and festive gatherings of thanks, and upon the women of the world who teach us, every day, after dreams are shattered - impossibly deferred - to begin again, and yet again, to hope.
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker