I have written about my belief in the people of Afghanistan, especially those who are part of the rug trade. The business I know so well touches the lives of almost 20% of the Afghan people and the majority of them are women. It’s an unavoidable reality—the future of Afghanistan depends on the success of sectors of the Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 5.36.58 AMeconomy that don’t depend on military action or international aid. Rugs is one of those sectors. In fact, in terms of exports, it is the largest contributor to Afghanistan’s trade balance. Rugs are definitely part of any formula for success in the country’s future.

Please save the date for the evening of April 24, 2014. Fine Rugs will host an evening to benefit the young women of Afghanistan. You’ll also get a chance to meet and hear from three good friends of mine.

The first is Connie Duckworth, founder of Arzu Studio Hope. Connie is making a return visit to Fine Rugs of Charleston to introduce a new collection of carpets designed by legendary architects. These spectacular rugs will benefit Arzu’s mission to provide education and health care and improved living conditions to the women and children of Afghanistan.

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Arzu, which means ‘hope’ in Dari, is an innovative model of social entrepreneurship that helps Afghan women weavers and their families break the cycle of poverty by providing them steady income and access to education and healthcare by sourcing and selling the rugs they weave to customers, mainly in the US.

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 Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 5.37.36 AMConnie founded Arzu in 2004, and she continues to serve, pro bono, as its Chief Executive.  Arzu operates as a 501(c) (3) in the US and an NGO in Afghanistan.  Through direct, grassroots experience, Connie has learned that sustainable community development involves a holistic approach that fully engages women.

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Arzu’s social contract with its weavers requires that all children under the age of 15 attend school. Arzu Education Monitors work directly with both the weaver families and the schools to insure compliance with the education requirements. Over 700 women and children regularly attend Arzu’s literacy classes. In addition to its educational initiatives, Arzu has programs that address the healthcare needs of its families and has funded projects in Bamyan to improve people’s access to clean water.

In my next post, I’ll introduce you Roz Rustigian and the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women. I’ll also tell you about Qais Akbar Omar and his new book, “A Fort Of Nine Towers“, a poetic, funny and terrifying memoir describing life in Kabul between the Soviet Army’s exit and the Taliban’s retreat, and his family’s attempts to flee Afghanistan.

You’ll get to meet them at the April 24th event as well, so remember to save the date!

Read part two of this post now: Making a difference for the people of Afghanistan.

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