Group shows appreciation for Afghan leaders

March 18, 2009 8:01:50 PM PDT
Bay Area women have been reaching out to the women of Afghanistan. ABC7 first saluted them several years ago and they have continued their mission. Their project has been successful beyond their wildest dreams, so now they are expanding to include the women who serve in Afghanistan's parliament.

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When the Afghan people went to the polls to elect new leaders four years ago, the law required 25 percent of the seats go to women.

"There are 91 women in the Afghan parliament; many people don't realize it's one of the highest percentages of women in any governing body in the world," Ann Rubin said.

Rubin runs a group called Afghans for Afghans. They are based in San Francisco, but they collect hand knit goods from all over the world and send them to the poorest parts of Afghanistan.

"We've knitted more than 80,000 sweaters and hats and mittens and socks since 2001," Rubin said.

The group meets in the basement of the American Friends Service Committee building. Every day, packages full of beautiful knit goods arrive by mail. Afghans for Afghans has been so successful, they wanted to do even more. Later this week they will be sending shawls to the women in Afghanistan's parliament.

"Their lives are at risk doing that job in Afghanistan; they are lawmakers and we just wanted to do something nice and kind for them," Rubin said.

Volunteers are packing up the shawls to be sent by FedEx later this week.

"We found patterns that could be long enough and wide enough for the standards of modesty in Afghan culture," Carol James said.

Each shawl is a work of art - beautifully knit or crocheted, and each one carries a message of friendship written in English and Dari (the most widely spoken language in Afghanistan) that says, "We admire your leadership and courage in serving your people and rebuilding your country."

The shawls will be presented at a tea party in Kabul, hosted by a Bay Area teacher representing the group. It took a lot of behind the scenes negotiation to make all this happen, and the knitters are excited their gifts are almost on their way.

"You spend a lot of time when you make something and you think about the person who is going to have it; you are never going to see them, never going to know who they are, but they are going to know they are not alone," James said.

Related Links:
Afghans for Afghans
ABC7 salutes Afghans for Afghans in 2007
ABC7 Salutes

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney

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