Countries

May 6
2015

Birthday wishes for Eternal Threads

I usually don’t celebrate birthdays, but maybe the milestones are different. I’m not sure why they should be, but certain milestones give us a way to celebrate life!

Even more rare than celebrating a birthday is having someone ask me what I want for my birthday, so when the Eternal Threads Board asked me what I wanted for my 65th birthday, I had to think about it. I didn’t have to think very long, however.

On May 18th we are celebrating my birthday and more importantly the 15th anniversary of Eternal Threads. When you talk about celebrating life, the last 15 years of the mission of Eternal Threads puts that in capital letters for me. LIFE AND HOPE to hundreds of women and their families. That’s something WE can all celebrate.

We have given over $1,000,000 of income to the women we serve just since 2005!!!! What more can we do?

Here’s what I wish for:

  • $3500 to help Rafiatu, in Ghana expand her business so she can employ more women and girls.   A production unit to make their own recycled beads and sandals and 6 sewing machines to train young women to sew.
  • Help Rosemary expand her market in Uganda with rent for a local shop so she can have the funds to educate her four younger siblings.
  • $8000 for 80 rescued girls in Nepal to have sewing machines enabling them to start businesses when they return to their home villages
  • $10,000 to support another anti-trafficking border unit in Nepal that can rescue 200 girls in a year…$50 a life!
  • Support for our Afghan partner and his family. They have received visas to go to India from Afghanistan where they felt increasingly at risk; as well as continuing our project in Afghanistan that his mother-in-law will oversee.
  • Expand our market in order to support our artisans with consistent orders and sustainable income. Contributions to Eternal Threads allow us to improve our products, website and marketing strategies.

The board has set the goal of 1000 donors to give $65 each for this celebration. (Write “Celebration” in the Program:Other window). Those funds could enable us to do all of this and much, much more. A great celebration indeed!!!

This celebration is for everyone who has supported Eternal Threads with donations, purchasing products, volunteering or hosting a sale. CELEBRATE LIFE AND HOPE in your own life and that of so many women you have served.

GRATEFULLY,

Linda

Mar 31
2014

How Hope Begins!

I’ve been in Delhi, India for a week partnering with Sahayak and Onemaker, a long-time Eternal Threads friend and partner.  Our purpose was to help develop a jewelry project for Sahayak, so that they might be able to employ women in a slum area of Delhi that desperately need an income to survive.  A week is certainly not long enough to develop a project fully, but because the Sahayak team is so capable, I think they will be able to carry on and produce a jewelry line that will employ many women and please a lot of customers.

Onemaker, our partner who began the jewelry project in Afghanistan that we still support, now trains women in jewelry making for projects just like this one.  I was here to give advice on design, etc. as a potential partner who would buy the products, and also to help source raw materials in the markets of Delhi that I am familiar with.  Even thought it was a lot of work, I quite enjoyed it since I hadn’t been in Delhi for several years and the Sahayak team were a joy to work with.

Naro and Stephanie and I were the “sourcing” team.  We spent four days trying to get a handle on what materials they could use for the jewelry line.  Finding beads and design components is a lot of fun and fairly easy, but finding the components to make up the pieces is more difficult and they will have to spend quite a bit more time finding everything that they need.

Naro and Stephanie

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We used all forms of transportation, but sometimes it’s just best to use a rickshaw to get where you want to go!!!

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I am anxious to see their final designs and offer them to the women who support Eternal Threads and these worthy projects around the world.  Hopefully we will have them in the warehouse by early June and online shortly thereafter.

Please keep this team in your thoughts and prayers as they work diligently to make this vision a reality.  Hope isn’t just a feeling that we may have.  It’s more tangible than that.  Hope is what you give someone when you give them a skill, a sewing machine or a goat, tailoring training, literacy training…anything that can help them improve their lives and that of their families.  It may begin as hope for the future, but it can in fact become a reality in the future.  It takes hard work, creativity and endurance, but the rewards are worth it.

I’m anxious for you to have the opportunity to buy the jewelry these women make so you can be part of making their hope real!!!!

 

Mar 25
2014

“Making Someone’s Life!!”

In the world most of us live in on a daily basis, I doubt that we often think about the fact that we could do something quite insignificant to us that would actually “MAKE someone’s life”…changing their world forever and giving them hope for the future that we can’t even understand.  Esmat is living proof that it can and does happen.

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Let me back up and tell you the story.  On my last visit to Afghanistan, I was able to spend time with the family of our wonderful partner.  While we were having lunch, I learned that his oldest son who is 12 years old is only in the third grade because the government school will not let him test out to advance to the 6th grade where he should be for his age.  He is a very good student and loves school, but was kept back because they had moved locations so many times. It is a sad fact that in government schools in Afghanistan, as in many parts of the world, resources are almost non-existent and sometimes the teachers only show up a few days a week, leaving the eager children who want to learn to fend for themselves.

I inquired if there were any private schools in the city and was told that there were several.  I hated to ask how much the fees were, only to find out that they might be out of reach, but was told that they were $200 a year which includes tuition, transportation, uniforms, books and supplies.  Quite honestly, I sat stunned for a moment with the reality that this child’s life hinged upon $16 a month…that’s lunch in our world!!!  I wish I could wave a magic wand and spend the billions of dollars in government aid that has never reached the Afghan people to educate every child instead. What a difference it would have made!  But that’s another story.

Before leaving Afghanistan the next day, I spoke with our partner who had immediately enrolled his son in school with the money I gave him.  He said, “You have made his life.  If he becomes a doctor, I’ve told him he has to treat you for free.”  I doubt that I’ll be traveling back to Afghanistan for my medical care.  However, won’t it be grand to know that there is a doctor somewhere that will treat his patients with a loving and compassionate attitude- the same attitude with which his father treats the women in our tailoring courses.  There are so many Afghans just like our partner who care deeply and do the right thing for their neighbors daily.

Our partner is now asking us to help educate the children of the women who have graduated from our tailoring courses. They are desperate for the tailoring and literacy courses that we provide, but want more than anything to educate their children.  Because the schools will open this week after the worst of winter is over,  we have committed to sending 45 girls and boys to private school without having raised the funding yet.  We want them to be able to start with other students and not fall behind in their classes.  They start their adventure today!!!  Can you imagine the excitement of this first day of school with the prospect of a life ahead of them that is now possible.

Because women and girls have been denied so much in the Taliban years, my heart has always been with the Afghan school girls in their white headscarves.  But, Esmat, has paved the way…and he is just the boy to do it.  He has his father’s heart, who cares deeply for the women and girls in his society who live in the most dangerous place on earth for females.  He is leading the way and now 45 will follow and let’s hope many more than that.  There is a lot of pessimism about the future for Afghanistan in this ominous year, but children have always been and always will be the future.  They will be the ones to shape that future. Will you help us get them there?  We are taking donations for the children’s tuition on our website.  Please share this with others who care as you do.  Happy First Day of School!!

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Oct 10
2013

International Day of the Girl

Saturday, October 11th is the International Day of the Girl.  The purpose of the day is to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.  This year’s Day will focus on “Innovating for Girls’ Education”.

The official UN website states:  “The fulfilment of girls’ right to education is first and foremost an obligation and moral imperative. There is also overwhelming evidence that girls’ education, especially at the secondary level, is a powerful transformative force for societies and girls themselves. While there has been significant progress in improving girls’ access to education over the last two decades, many girls, particularly the most marginalized, continue to be deprived of this basic right. Girls in many countries are still unable to attend school and complete their education due to safety-related, financial, institutional and cultural barriers.”

The Eternal Threads vision began helping women have income to provide for more nutritious food, access to healthcare and education for their children.  In my experience working with women living in extreme poverty, one of their highest priorities is having income to educate their children…especially their daughters.  Most of them never had the opportunity to go to school and they know it is vital to their children’s future.

When our first project in south India was providing enough profit for us to return those benefits to the communities in which we were working, we knew the most important thing we could do would be to provide education for girls.  The photo below is of the first group of girls that were given school scholarships.Image

Since that time girl’s education and welfare has been a central part of the Eternal Threads mission whether it is directly through scholarships, building a school in Afghanistan, or through the livelihood incomes provided to their mothers which enables them to provide education and safety for their daughters.

Rosemary, our partner in Uganda, uses most of her income from the sale of her baskets to pay the school fees and buy school uniforms for her four younger siblings.  She is putting off her own education until she can give them the start in life they need.  If we can’t sell enough of her baskets to cover the fees, Eternal Threads provides a portion of those school fees.

Here are just some of the girls whose lives have been touched by Eternal Threads.  Join us in celebrating these girls.Image 9 - Version 2Image 45IMG_1437_1IMG_9666IMG_9648

Sep 15
2013

The Last Point

I sometimes receive emails from our Afghan partner that stun me in their reality and for a few minutes, I am able to block out the “nothingness” that is all around us and live in the moment of what truly matters.

For over four years our partner has very capably overseen the tailoring and now beautician training courses that we fund for women who desperately need a skill to provide income for their families in the safety of their homes.

International Literacy Day was September 8th.  That same week we began literacy courses and self-help empowerment courses for the women in our training courses.  They want to learn to read since most of them never had the opportunity to attend school.  Our partner recently finished a three-week training course himself to be able to also train these women in organizing Self-Help Groups.  This is a fantastic program that not only teaches them how to start their own businesses, but also gives training in forming self-help groups where they contribute their own money to a fund that will provide low interest loans to its members.  This program was developed by the International Labor Organization and is one of the most valuable tools for helping women who live in extreme poverty and oppression.

A few days ago, I received word from some dear friends that a young Afghan man they had worked with on development projects was murdered to prevent any further progress of this kind for the Afghan people.  I expressed concern to our partner for his and his family’s safety and questioned whether or not we should continue. I received this in reply…

Don’t worry Ms. Linda. We will not die this soon because we have targets and goals in our life. We are building the minds of children and women and giving them hope to continue living.  In this case, we have decided to continue to the last point…”

Everyone is fearful for 2014 and what will happen when international forces leave Afghanistan.  My fear is that the Afghan people will be forgotten once again.  The potential for the increased oppression and brutality toward women and girls is very real and beyond the scope of most of our imaginations.

A report in TOLOnews.com on 9/11/13 states that 95 percent of suicides in Afghanistan are committed by women. More than 2,500 Afghan women have taken their own lives in the past year alone. Countrywide investigations show that the vast majority of suicide cases in Afghanistan were amongst woman and young girls experiencing physical abuse. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Afghan women experience some of the highest rates of domestic violence in the world. According to UNAMA’s mid-year report, cases of violence against women were higher in 2013 than in 2012. In addition to violence, Public Health officials cited forced marriage, often between pre-adolescent girls and adult men, as well as widespread illiteracy as the main adversities facing female Afghans that contribute to the startling rates of suicide. 

This news is very discouraging, and it would be easy to say it’s not worth it, but if those who risk the most for their people are not willing to give up then my momentary feelings of discouragement don’t measure up.

Bless all of you who have supported these training courses with your donations to Eternal Threads for sewing machines, lunch for the women and trainers’ salaries.  I assure you it does not go unnoticed and it will never be forgotten.  It will continue to be a light in the shadows, and even a small amount of light illumes the darkness. DSC00175

After I visited the training courses on my last visit, I learned from our partner that the women could not believe that I would travel so far to see them and that we would care enough to give them these opportunities.  Caring enough isn’t really that difficult nor does it cost us that much, but it changes lives in ways that we really can’t comprehend.  I think it is easy for us to forget that there is a “last point” and I’m thankful for our partner’s reminder.  He is the father of three sons so his sacrifice or risk is certainly no less and a lot more than ours.  He was a translator for our military for two years and still honors the men and women that he saw sacrificing so much for his people and his country.  It is what inspired him.

To make a difference in the lives of these women in Afghanistan, please visit our Life Changing Gifts page.

Aug 31
2013

Kathmandu

Even though we flew completely different routes, amazingly we all arrived within a few minutes of each other at the Kathmandu airport on Friday morning.  Unfortunately some of the luggage for Abby’s extended stay here in Nepal didn’t make it, but they will be here on the 2nd.

After a quick rest, shower and some lunch we went to visit the new offices of of our Nepal partner which up until now had been in their home.  Our partner had invited a young woman to join us that he wanted me to meet.  Her name is Rashmi.  A beautiful young women with amazing blue eyes who has been deaf since birth.  Her husband signed and translated for us.  She is a very accomplished artist naturally and is now studying at Kathmandu University.  She draws all of the anti-trafficking posters that our partner distributes to police stations, bus and train stations, schools, etc.  She wants to use her art to help with the anti-trafficking work.  I wish she could meet our great friend, Ruth Jackson, who never stops thinking about the ways in which she can use her art for good.

Rashmi, along with her paintings, has started doing painting on canvas shoes.  We all thought they were fantastic and think there is a potential for selling them….especially to benefit the Red Thread Movement.  She wants to train the girls in the safe house to do the painting which will give them an income, but will also give them a way to express themselves.  They often can’t articulate what they have gone through in either the spoken or written word, but can express their feelings in art.Image

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After leaving the offices we visited our partner’s family at their home which is where the sewing center activities take place as well.  We were able to meet some of the girls doing the sewing and see the new cutting machine that they have available to them.  It was great to meet Rosni who is now completely in charge of all the shipments that we receive of bracelets and other goods.  Before returning to the hotel they prepared the most wonderful Nepali meal for us all to share.

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Aug 29
2013

Team Visit to Nepal

An Eternal Threads team departed on Wednesday, August 28th for a visit to Nepal.  The team includes Eternal Threads’ founder, Linda Egle, board member, Diane Rose, and two staff members, Breahna Jordan and Abby Youngblood.  Breahna is the director of the Red Thread Movement and Abby will be remaining in Nepal to live in the safe house for nine months.  We are so excited that she will be able to serve this ministry in such a powerful way…spending time with the girls and helping our partner with so many tasks.

UPDATE: With a little more drama than we would have liked at the DFW airport today, we are all on our way to Nepal.  We are going different routes, but will meet up in Frankfurt for the last legs to Delhi, India and Kathmandu.  Don’t you love that name – Kat-Man-Du!!!!  I always get a kick out of saying it.

I’m very anxious to see our Nepal partner, the staff and especially the rescued girls in the safe houses.  It is always the greatest blessing and the reward for traveling half way round the world to be able to be with them.  They are the reason for it all and they are worth it!!!  Their courage, resiliency and their willingness to build a new life is inspirational in ways that are hard to describe.  They have come from remote mountain villages where they may have never had an opportunity to go to school, where they helped with household chores from the time they were little girls that most women never have to do…collecting wood and feed for animals, building open fires for cooking, and carrying water home from the stream.  Their families are desperately poor and they may have even suffered abuse in their own homes, which made them especially vulnerable to traffickers.  As most Nepalese people are, they are sweet and humble even after being deceived and abused by the traffickers.

It is the love and compassion they receive from the young women “manning” the border stations who rescue them, the house mothers and other rescued girls in the safe houses that gives them the confidence that they can rebuild their lives.  Receiving vocational training in sewing or beautician training gives them the practical skills needed for that life.  Every time you give a “gift” of a sewing machine to someone from our website, you are empowering these girls.

I’ve never been on the border at exactly the right time to witness a rescue first hand, but I love to hear the dramatic stories of their rescue.  This news report appeared in a Nepal newspaper of one such rescue.  Usha Gurung who did the rescue is the most senior staff member of KI Nepal.  These girls are amazing…knowledgeable and courageous.  They are not willing to let anyone slip through their grasp.  I can’t wait to tell Usha…”good for you and thank you.”

BHAIRAHAWA – A teenage girl from Tanahu district, who was being trafficked to India by three men, was rescued from Belahiya border in Rupandehi district on Wednesday evening. …an organization working against human trafficking, rescued 17-year-old Sima Thapa as a group of traffickers were trying to take her across the border. The three men fled leaving behind Thapa when they were stopped at a check post. Thapa, a native of Arunodaya VDC-3 in Tanahu, was drugged by the three men she had met in a passenger bus headed for Bhimad Bazaar.  “When I woke up I was in Belahiya. They threatened to kill me if I did not do what they told me. I relented and walked along with them,” said Thapa. While two of the traffickers walked ahead to cross the border, Thapa was instructed to walk along with the third man and identify him as her uncle if inquired. Usha Gurung, in-charge of … Belahiya check post, said Thapa’s nervous expression suggested something was suspicious about her being there with a man. “When we stopped them for questioning, she first said that the man was her uncle. Not convinced, we pressed her to tell the truth when the man ran away. She later told us what had happened to her,” said Gurung. Police Inspector Mohan Bahadur Khand of the Belahiya Area Police Office said Thapa was handed over to her parents on Thursday.

Stay tuned…hopefully we’ll be blogging several times during the visit.