Khaleda is one of 2.9 million Afghan refugees now displaced around the globe, over 650,000 of which were newly displaced since January of this year. We work with Khaleda and other Afghan refugee women in India, Pakistan, and Malaysia. We also have artisan partners in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
Khaleda works with Archisha, a local social enterprise partner in India. She and the other artisans work together on modern, finely crocheted accessories, that showcase heritage skills. These artisans at Archisha are behind the incredibly elegant Eternal snowflake & Silver moon holiday ornaments.
This fall, we spoke with Khaleda, a 34 year old artisan refugee from Afghanistan, about her family and her work.
When did you come here and with who?
I came to India, two years and 3 months ago with my husband and 5 children.
Do you have children?
I have five children; Aminullah (13 years old), Ayisha (11 years old), Safura (9 years old), Amina (8 years old), Muhammad Sharif (3 years old)
How did you feel when you had to leave home?
It was a very difficult decision to make. Starting from zero in a new country is tough. But, we chose this path because of my children's future.
What is your craft? How did you learn it?
My craft is crochet work, knitting, and tailoring. I learned this craft from my mother.
What kinds of items do you usually make?
We are crocheting various products from jewelry to bags and decoration designs. We try different stuff. Whatevers demand is in the market, or whatever orders we get, we crochet those things. Gloves, cup cover, pen cover, tassels, key straps, coaster, tablecloths. We make handmade bags here as well.
Why is this work important to you?
This work is important because it is the only way I can support my family financially. My husband's income is not enough for our day-to-day livelihood needs. In the past, we received rental money from leasing out our home in Afghanistan. However, due to the tense situation in the country, this rent money has stopped.
How does working together in a group with other women make you feel?
Working with other artisan women makes me feel like I belong. It’s that one time during the day that I am not thinking about my household chores and I'm putting all my effort into making a product.
How do you plan to use the income that you earned from this order?
The income will be used for my children's educational expenses and our daily livelihood requirements.
Has being an artisan helped you support your family or send your children to school?
Being an artisan, I am glad that I am able to provide some financial help for our livelihood.
What example do you want to set for your children? What hopes do you have for them?
I want to be a good mother to my children. I am also extremely worried about my children's future. Due to COVID-19 and the current situation in Afghanistan, only God knows the kind of future they will have.
Is there a message you would like to send to the people around the world who buy your products?
It is so encouraging to hear that people buy our products and love them. This gives us great happiness to know our artistic work is being honoured. It would mean so much if the customers can spread the word and introduce us to other clients as well.
What is your dream?
The only dream I have is to live in peace where my children can get a quality education and secure their future.