Countries

Jul 10
2012

Family Challenges

To begin our Out of the Darkness countdown (more information on our Facebook page) of some of the factors that contribute to sex trafficking, we start with “family challenges” which affect many of the girls and women we serve. As a reminder, all of this information is from an internal study done this year with partners of Eternal Threads.

Family challenges include broken families or families with a dysfunctional background including families with widowed or single mothers or polygamous backgrounds. It also includes families where one or both parents are working away from home in order to provide for their children, and families in which there are too many children for the mother or parents to care for adequately. As you can imagination, whether with good or poor intentions or even neglect, these situations put children at great risk for being trafficked. They need more support and protection.

These family issues are present in numerous countries, but were specifically reported in Nepal, Ghana, Mongolia, and Nigeria. In these countries and every country, Eternal Threads helps by partnering with those who work to stand in the gap of family challenges. By providing jobs and often emotional support for girls and women, we strive to give them the resources they need to be successful in making their own living and taking care of themselves and their families.

Check in tomorrow to see how you can make a specific difference in the issue of Family Challenges.

A Story of Restoration

There are stories of rescue and restoration that need to be told. This is one of those stories that is similar to the stories of so many that are deceived and exploited by traffickers ~

She is eighteen years old and over the past several months has been training to be a beautician in a vocational training program along with others who are receiving tailoring training. With extreme talent, she has been chosen to work in a micro-enterprise salon business, through which she will be able to earn enough money to support herself in her new community.

Just one year ago, her story looked much different. Living in poverty with her father and stepmother, she was asked to be married to a man from a higher social caste. Her parents quickly agreed. However, the man which posed as a potential groom was actually a trafficker working for a trafficking ring in India. She realized through an overheard conversation that he had no intention of marrying her, but in fact was taking her over the border to a brothel.

On the day that they attempted to cross the border, dedicated anti-trafficking agents stopped the couple and separated the two for questioning. Broken and scared, she asked to be rescued, as she knew where he was taking her and she did not want to go. The trafficker was taken into custody and she was taken to a safe house for restoration and healing with other girls that had similar stories. Although the organization that rescued her reached out to her parents, they were unwilling for her to return home. The rejection and betrayal that she felt was heavy, and even in the midst of a loving and caring environment, it took a long time for her to heal.

Today, she is an excellent beautician and is thriving in her new community. She is ready to get started in her own business and continue to train other girls as well as give back to the program that made such a difference in her own life. In talking about her rescue and restoration, she says, “I have never been loved by anyone in my entire life like I have been here in this place.”

Feb 7
2012

Gifts of Light and Love!

Afghan blown glass

A special gift of light for women in Afghanistan!

After a month hiatus from the holidays, February always brings to mind the gifts that we might like to give those we love…our sweethearts, wives, husbands and girlfriends.  Even in countries where marriages are arranged and the celebration of Valentine’s Day is frowned upon there is still the fascination and desire to do something that expresses our “love”.  The heart is the universal symbol for that expression displayed on cards, chocolate boxes, balloons and a hundred other ways. It’s an appropriate symbol because it is our heart that prompts us to love those we know and those we do not know.

I’ll never forget getting the email from our partner in Afghanistan on a Sunday morning asking if I would pay to send a woman “barber” to the village once a month so that she could cut the women’s hair…something that they had never had done for them before.  My response was “absolutely”!!  What a gift to them.  He told me in that email that the women artisans we work with do not know what a “gift” is…they have no understanding of the concept.  They have never been given a gift of any kind by their husbands, brothers or sons.  It is completely foreign to them.  One of the women later told him that when the woman barber comes to the village “it is one of her good days in her life.”  Wow, I just had my hair cut Friday afternoon and it was more of an annoying errand I had to do!!

We’ve been thinking at Eternal Threads how we can bless these women with the gifts that we give for Valentine’s Day.  

I’ll be going to Afghanistan again in March and I’ve made the decision that I will go to the village to visit the women.  I’ll probably try and think of something I can take to them as a small token gift, but everything seems trivial compared to their needs.  

What they need is light in the darkness. The women need hope that they can survive in a world where they cannot work outside the home.  They can have that hope through skills that we can give them.  This month we hope to start two tailoring projects in and around the city of Herat where we work.  The hand crank sewing machines have been donated, but we need to provide the trainers and supplies for these six month training programs.

How special would your Valentine gift be if it helped to give these women the gift of hope they really need? The beautiful handblown dishes you see in the photo above are famous from the city of Herat. We are offering them as a special purchase for $10…ALL proceeds will go to the tailoring projects. Each dish will come in it’s own gift box with tea lights and a special message to the person receiving this as a gift.

You can purchase online or call the Eternal Threads office…888-487-4549. Supplies are limited!

Nov 15
2011

“Safe” Home and Sewing Center

From the Founder. Nepal

I guess learning to sew in 4-H when I was 9 years old is paying off even though I haven’t had time to use my own sewing machine for years. I recently spent 2 days in Kathmandu, Nepal sourcing fabric, product ideas and materials for the sewing center we want to establish at one of the safe houses for rescued girls. Somewhat laborious, time-consuming and often frustrating, but necessary to our process. Now it’s all coming together as we begin to set up the sewing center at the safe house.

In our world, a “safe” home constitutes one free of any and all potential dangers from accidents or mishaps. We attempt to cover all the bases…covers on electrical outlets, cleaning supplies in locked cabinets, non-slip rugs and floors, alarm systems and more. Most homes in the rest of the world don’t have the luxury of such safeguards, so I had to pause and think about what “SAFE” means to this house. For the rescued girls who live here it is above all else a place to be safe from the deceit of those that would do them harm and also a place to be rescued, restored and redeemed. A place to find new confidence in themselves and build a new life!

This safe house is just such a place. It is filled with light and fresh air with lots of room. The girls have their own garden so that the home never has to buy vegetables and everything they eat is organic.

Picking vegetables

They share all the responsibilities of cleaning, cooking and maintaining the garden. I hear them singing and chattering happily together as they do their work and also learn new skills of sewing, knitting and crocheting on which to build that new life, not only as a means of income, but as a way to regain their sense of value and worth. Saturday morning I was able to witness the fruit of this safe house when I attended a fellowship with the girls. One of those rescued was the leader for that day. She led the fellowship with poise and stature, a strong, confident voice and a great depth of understanding for one so young. It was a clear testament to the growth that comes from this safe place.

THE RIGHT TEAM

Nirmal RajBusantiThe greatest need we had for establishing a really successful sewing center was finding the right team. We were blessed to find just that team in Nirmal Raj (left) who will be doing the advanced tailoring training for a year and Busanti who will be the sewing center manager. Both have the skills we need and with their combined efforts we are well on our way.

DEVELOPING SKILLS
Helping Each Other
Gaining skills that will help you have income is crucial for these girls, but it also gives them the confidence to build that new life because they have something to value in themselves. It is wonderful to watch them working together and sometimes teaching each other how to master a new skill. They have some good basic skills and with Nirmal and Busanti’s help they will be able to advance their training.

DEVELOPING PRODUCTS
Teaching the girls to be creative and entrepreneurial is part of our goal so making a small jewelry pouch out of scraps of fabric is more than just coming up with a new product. Busanti got right to work showing the girls how to make them and pretty soon they were going through all the scraps of fabric that had been discarded to see if they could find pieces big enough to make a jewelry pouch. Picking up the pieces of your life and making it into something useful is a powerful image.

I was pleased to see that the girls were already working on a new product of their own…a crocheted hat. Their design was good, but they needed a little help with color combinations so we went to the yarn shop and did a little designing together. We’ll hopefully have them in the warehouse before Christmas.

Nov 5
2011

Building a school Afghan style!!

You can’t find it on a map, but due to your generosity the children in this village will have a school before winter. Here are some great photos of the work in progress. The children are so excited about the school that they helped carry the bricks one day. The entire village is behind this effort. They donated the land and the village elder is being very helpful and cooperative. We only need $1700 more to receive a very generous matching grant from an Eternal Threads border member to finish paying for the school.
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Oct 28
2011

4 Days in Kabul

From the founder. New Delhi, India

I arrived a day late in Kabul so we only had four days to accomplish what we needed to do. It went amazingly well and we felt like we were finished with what we needed to do when our partner left to fly to his home and I came to New Delhi to visit a friend on my way to Nepal.

Our biggest challenge was convincing FedEx to continue to ship our goods for us. Even though they had shipped for us in the past, they had been refusing to do so since May. We went to the FedEx office directly from the airport on my arrival and as many things are in developing countries and especially those in conflict, all it took was for me to show up personally in the office. We were assured that we could ship with no problem. On Saturday we took four large boxes that left for the U.S. on Sunday. Watch our website for photos of these fantastic carpets that were shipped and many more.

The rest of our time was spent with follow-up to my visit in May…refining some of the products that are in development. It sounds like it should be easy, but developing products in Afghanistan is far from easy. Especially since I can’t go and meet with the women myself (something I hope to do next spring.) It’s a matter of figuring out what their skills are and then trying to develop that into a marketable product rather trying to teach them a skill they are unfamiliar with. The women in our village do have very fine carpet weaving skills and we continue to try and develop patterns that will be appreciated in the west. We also want to develop some products that will help women in the village that do not make carpets…especially the young girls. Our partner brought samples of some of the embroidery that the girls (age 14 to 16) make…one of the most extraordinary skills I have EVER seen anywhere in the world.

Afghan embroideryThis exquisite embroidery is solid minute stitching with silk thread. Girls learn to do this when they are very young because they must make the front of a tunic shirt solid with this embroidery for their future husbands. Machine embroidery is now replacing much of it, but the skill these girls possess can never be matched by a machine. Watch our website and blog for new products that are developed with this embroidery…bookmarks, Christmas ornaments, pot-pourri bags and cell phone cases.

Two very exciting prospects came up while we were in Kabul. We discovered that one of the finest cashmere (kork) wool comes from the area where our project is located. (BTW: a very famous designer who shall remain nameless is using this cashmere in her products!!) Our partner is going to pursue the option of getting the necessary spinning wheels and train women to knit this amazing fiber into products. Older women do the spinning and younger women knit. The spinning is second nature to the women in our village because they are nomadic women that have always processed wool from their sheep and goats. This is a perfect fit for them.

Our second new development came through my friends John and Jan Bradley who were in Kabul at the same time. They established the Lamia Foundation which builds schools in Afghanistan, but because of Jan’s amazing networking skills she has a donor in the U.S. who wants to furnish fabric and sewing supplies for sewing centers in Afghanistan. We hope to be able to open 3 of these in our village and in the city where our partner lives. Money has also been provided to purchase the hand crank sewing machines that will be needed for the projects. All we will have to do is find sponsors who will pay for the trainers. This is very exciting for these women!

Oct 24
2011

Looking Back and Forward!

From the founder. Kabul, Afghanistan.

Before leaving for Afghanistan and Nepal last week I made a short trip to my alma mater, York College in York, Nebraska. It was homecoming weekend and I was scheduled to speak in chapel and some classes, so as I was traveling I was compelled to “look back” and reflect on things. Not something you take the time to do very often, but possibly a good exercise to look back at the past to know better how to proceed into the future.

Sometimes you don’t know how all the experiences you have and relationships you make will add up to what you ultimately do in life. You make think they are random, but if you are willing God usually has a plan that reveals itself to you little by little.

I’d like to tell you that I knew from the very outset what my life would look like and what I would do with it, but I didn’t. I’m glad God could see the whole picture and give me snapshots along the way for me to see – when I was paying attention that is!

I committed to my first “mission” trip when I was a student at York College that probably created both a desire to serve and a desire to travel. I didn’t know then that I would spend 27 years of my professional life as a flight attendant. It’s very random to think of that career as preparing for ministry, but then there was that “plan” again that I wasn’t fully aware of. The travel experience, learning about other cultures, developing a life-long fascination with textiles and ethnic crafts, having the time to go back to school and study theology as well as the opportunity to develop photographic skills all added up to something in the end.

Half way through my career I committed my time-off and airline travel benefits to serving in South India. This was the second juncture in my life that ultimately lead to the establishment of Eternal Threads. It put me in contact with extreme poverty for the first time in my life and set me on a path of thinking about what my response to that should be as a person of faith.

I fell in love with India and especially the people that lived in extremely poor, rural villages. I don’t mean to sound sexist, but it was the women that really captivated me. I’ve often said that it’s the Nebraska farm girl in me that gave me such an affinity for these women and what their lives were like. It was their hard working and humble spirits that drew me to them. They never had the opportunity to be educated as I had and their only desire was to make life better for their families as it is for women all over the world. That first year I helped start a child sponsorship program (India’s Child) to help educate their children, but I thought for many more years about how I could eventually bring meaningful income to them.

That took a few more years of development but in the year 2000 Eternal Threads established it’s first project in this area of India making the original Sofi tote. This project taught me what I had to do to help women living in extreme poverty to have a sustainable income. They have to be able to make a product with the skills they already possess and raw materials that are readily available to them and most importantly to be able to work from home. I’ve learned many more lessons along the way, but we now represent women in 12 countries. Eternal Threads is part of the Fair Trade Federation, which means that we insure that the women are receiving a fair and living wage for the goods they make which gives them the potential of a sustainable income.

The greatest focus of our work at present is in Afghanistan and Nepal where I will be traveling on this month. In Afghanistan we are working with nomadic women in a very remote village on the Iranian border. Because of the poverty level and conditions after decades of war, we also do a great deal of humanitarian work in this village…we just sent 26,000 lbs. of donated aid to the village…much of which was nutritious, dehydrated food because in the winter there is nothing to eat. We also send school supplies and are building a school which we hope will be finished soon.

In Nepal we are primarily working with a local partner to prevent the trafficking of Nepalese girls across the border into Indian brothels. Additionally, much of our focus is in giving vocational training to rescued and “at risk” girls so that they can have an income that will prevent them from being tricked into taking “jobs” which don’t exist. Working on a sewing center for these girls will be my main focus on this trip to Nepal.

Sometimes I’m asked the question whether or not what I do is ministry or a mission? The only answer I can give is that girls in Nepal that are rescued come to know that someone cared enough to save them from a life of slavery and death…a profound witness in itself.

I want to tell you one story that illustrates this to you. When young women are successfully trafficked the brothel owner than turns them into traffickers themselves sending them back to their home villages to bring more girls to “work”. When our partner caught a young woman on the border that was doing this, he was prompted not to turn her into the police and spoke to her instead about his own life experience and what forgiveness means. He and the staff spent a lot of time with her, they had a meal together and he let her go. The next week she came back and and asked if they would help her escape the brothel. She ultimately returned to her home village and is a powerful witness for making others aware of the dangers the traffickers pose to village girls.

Our Afghan partner is passionate to show the villagers we work with that they are not forgotten and that there are those in the world that care about them. He is especially determined to educate the girls in this village to prevent them from begin sold at an early age to older husbands. I am humbled by his commitment and willingness to risk his life to do it.

Afghan School Girl

Afghan School Girl


As I was boarding the bus at the Dubai terminal to go to my flight to Kabul I found a seat by a young american from Georgia. His name was Lance. He’s been working in Afghanistan as a contractor for 2 years primarily building schools in the same area where our project is located. As we talked about the need for education especially for girls I mentioned the time magazine article that I had just bought in the airport with the front cover: “Why the U.S. can’t save Afghanistan.” He commented that the men he works with both Afghan and American have come to the conclusion that if Afghanistan is going to be saved it will be the women that do it!!! Women have been oppressed in Afghanistan in horrific ways in the past and the present…maybe those school girls in headscarves are the future.

Sep 8
2011

Rosemary’s Baskets

Name: Rosemary Asenetor
Home Country: Uganda
Trade: Basket making from natural materials.
Mission: Support her mother and younger siblings.

Most 20 year old young women do not have the responsibility of being the bread winner and caretaker for her entire family, but Rosemary had that burden thrust on her when her father died and her mother had a stroke.

Basket weaving is part of the fabric of African life and culture passed down from generation to generation. For Rosemary it is not just a handicraft skill learned from her grandmother that no longer has meaning, but it is the livelihood with which she can care for her mother and four younger siblings. Her income is needed to provide food and rent along with medical care for her mother and school fees and supplies for the younger children.

Rosemary has overcome so many challenges, but they have not stopped her from having hope for a better future. She wants to go to university someday, but she is now using her income to buy a plot of land so that her family will always have a home.

“I am now at home concentrating on making the baskets that you are selling as I wait to join the university if God wishes.”

Her beautiful baskets are handcrafted from a plentiful supply of banana leaves, reeds and grasses. Her courage and commitment is woven into each of these baskets and she radiates gratefulness in spite of the demands on one so young.

“I do not know how to thank you apart from dedicating you to God. May God bless you always.”

Rosemary’s baskets are sold at the Eternal Threads warehouse and on the website

Aug 23
2011

School House Hopes

Receiving precious school supplies!

Now that the children in the Afghan village have school supplies and a qualified teacher they are anxiously awaiting their new school where they don’t have to sit in the hot sun or in the cold winter and the girls have a room of their own.

School children with Hoopoe books that tell Afghan folk tales and teach critical thinking.

Wanting to learn and needing a school.

Jun 10
2011

A new partner!

DolmaIn our recent travels to Nepal, we were blessed in meeting a wonderful Tibetan refugee woman named Dolma Pasang. Sitting under a shade tree making lovely jewelry is where we found Dolma on our first day in Pokhara. She remembered our founder who had talked with her on a previous trip and our friendly conversation easily found it’s way to business. We asked her to make some of her extraordinarily beautiful jewelry for a special sale event at Eternal Threads and she enthusiastically agreed because she needed the money for her children’s school fees. We were so pleased with the uniqueness and quality of her work that we ordered more than we actually thought she could produce in such a short time. We worried about it, but found there was no need for worry.

It was then that we realized we might have a new partner and jewelry project because Dolma, just by being who she is, showed us that she is the embodiment of the Eternal Threads mission. She enlisted needy women in her refugee community to help so that they too would benefit, she helped us source product with honesty and commitment to help us with our goals for Eternal Threads and then she did something really amazing…

We had given her our brochure and business cards so she had a friend help her look up the Eternal Threads website on the computer. The day before we left she came to deliver the last of the jewelry that she and the other ladies had made and told us about seeing the website. She was so happy to see the work of Eternal Threads and in her words, “how hard you are working to help so many women.” She brought a bag full of beads that she uses to make her own jewelry to sell, but she wanted to donate them to Eternal Threads saying that she wants to be part of helping carry on our work.

Dolma is the kind of partner that Eternal Threads has been blessed with in all of our projects. We are hoping that her jewelry is a big success (it will be on the website as soon as we can) so that we can start a project with her and the women who need the help in her community.

Watch our YouTube video of Dolma making a piece of jewelry.