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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

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.

Apr 17
2013

Journey West

On Sunday, April 14th, our Afghan partner and I traveled to the western city where our projects are located.  It was nice to have a companion for the journey.  Going to this city is like entering another world in Afghanistan.  It is much different than Kabul.  Thankfully, it has not been damaged as much over the decades of war so there are avenues lined with huge pine trees.  The entire city has mature trees (something you don’t see in Kabul) and parks with loads of trees and flowers.  It seems to be a more “normal” city rather than a war zone…people going about their daily lives…shopping, taking children to school, visiting neighbors.  All in all I prefer it to Kabul except for the fact that as a woman I am less free.  I never saw a single woman who didn’t have a burqa or chador. I’m able to wear a long coat and head scarf but we had to be cautious not to attract unwarranted attention.

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Our first project visit on Monday was to an area just outside the city to visit the tailoring course.  My partner brought his family with us to help with the “attention” factor.  This is the second course we have done for women in this area and will begin a third at the beginning of next month. Even though our partner had taken some wonderful photos and videos before it was such a pleasure to visit the young women for myself.  There are 10 in each class ranging in age from 18 to 30…most of them being around the age of 20. Because this is such a poor area none of them have ever had the opportunity to go to school so having the opportunity to learn this skill is a huge benefit to they and their families.  We passed out graduation certificates to everyone and our partner will present them with the supplies they need to start their business when they finish at the end of the month.  These supplies are purchased for only $120.  Anyone interested can give this amount for one of these young women on our website in Life Changing Gifts.

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I was also able to meet one of the young women (17 years old) from our first class who now has a business in her home and the 26 year old woman from our remote village whose story was in my last blog.  I had several questions for them which is such a new experience because never in their lives has someone asked them their opinion about anything.  They would not take their chadors off or even let me fully see their faces.

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We talked to the young woman about her business and what might help her be more successful.  We concluded that we could help the women get more customers in their neighborhood if they had pieces of fabric that their customers could choose from rather than having to travel into the city to buy it. Our partner is going to try and find a wholesaler that would give us a good price for bulk purchases of fabric.  The women are given their sewing machine and set-up supplies when they finish the course, but they would have to repay the loan for the fabric as they are able to make it into clothing for their customers.

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After visiting the tailoring course I had the pleasure of taking my partner and his family to lunch at an Afghan restaurant which is something that they as a family had never done before.  It was a treat for all of us to be able to spend time together.  Our partner’s three sons are ages 12, 7 and 4. (photo below)  His oldest son is a very intelligent boy and LOVES to go to school.  Unfortunately, because they had to move several times he is only in the 3rd class instead of the 6th as he should be.  The government school that he goes to will not let him take exams to advance to the grade that he should be in for his age.  I discovered that the solution to this was that he attend a private school.  I didn’t have the expense of educating children of my own so this was an easy decision for me.  I gave the funds to our partner when I left yesterday so that he can attend the private school.  I can tell that this young man will do well with every opportunity he is given.

After lunch we visited the jewelry project that we have been supporting since a good friend of mine began the project when she lived in this city for a year and a half.  She taught the women to make the beautiful jewelry that we now sell on our website and the young Afghan woman you see in the photo below has carried on the project to employ the women.  I collected some of the Pearls of Perseverance bracelets that were finished and we worked on some new designs as well.

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The remainder of our time was spend sourcing raw materials…a very fine cashmere comes from this part of Afghanistan.  I’m hoping we can employ some women make some beautiful infinity scarves and gloves that you will love.

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Apr 11
2013

Eternal Threads’ Founder receives Humanitarian Award

A personal note from Linda:

All of us at Eternal Threads are so thrilled by this recognition for the work that we do.  Jennifer Patterson and I attended the event in Las Vegas which was truly amazing.  It is wonderful to have the honor, but more than that we are so pleased that this is a long term relationship with MedAssets and the Borlaug family.   They couldn’t have been nicer and are sincerely interested in our work and want to support us in any way they can.  We feel that we are part of the MedAssets family now.

I have to especially thank my nephew, Larry Egle, and Carol Copeland from Omaha who nominated me for this award.  They’ve done an amazing thing for us.  Thank you to everyone for your good wishes to me for this award.  We couldn’t fulfill our mission and help the women we serve without your help and partnership!

MedAssets Recognizes Veteran U.S. Army Airborne Ranger Sean Parnell, Humanitarians Linda Egle, Jamie and Ali McMutrie for Dedicated Public Service

 ATLANTA—April 9, 2013—MedAssets (NASDAQ: MDAS) today announced the recipients of the 2012 George Herbert Walker Bush Pacesetter Award and 2012 Norman Borlaug Humanitarian Award, which were presented during the 2013 MedAssets Healthcare Business Summit, held April 2-4 in Las Vegas.

2012 Norman Borlaug Humanitarian Award Winners Linda Egle, Jamie and Ali McMutrie

“Linda, Jamie and Ali each represent the spirit of the Norman Borlaug Humanitarian Award, and we celebrate the impact that their life’s work is making for women, children and families in need,” said Bardis. “Linda is empowering women around the world with an income source to avoid exploitation. Ali and Jamie are enriching the lives of children and families in Haiti with essential social services for survival and self-sustainability,” he said. “These amazing women are making the world a better place, one person at a time.”

Linda Egle, founder of Eternal Threads

In 2000, Linda Egle of Texas founded Eternal Threads, a non-profit artisan import organization that directly provides a fair trade wage to women artisans in developing countries. Linda’s life’s work began in 1988 during a mission trip to India to help educate children. Moved by the plight of Indian women and children at risk of extreme poverty and exploitation, she started Eternal Threads. Initially, she purchased lace and totes from women artisans in India. Today, Eternal Threads purchases handmade crafts from women in 12 developing countries. After paying an upfront fair trade wage, she sells the artisan crafts in the U.S. through a market that is lacking in the women’s own countries. Eternal Threads has returned 100 percent of its profits to hundreds of women around the world. In addition, Eternal Threads supports safe houses for girls rescued from human trafficking and funds anti-trafficking border units in Nepal, where more than 12,000 girls are trafficked each year. Working with local partners, Eternal Threads helps rescue, house, counsel and educate girls so that they can live a better life. Support Eternal Threads at www.eternalthreads.org.

 ImageHere is the link to the video played at the event:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H4elfHJcgk&list=PLBLTs35ocBTldnQFOJzQC7vvv9l32W1Xz&index=3

Oct 5
2012

Threads of Hope for Afghan Women

Eternal Threads is hosting an event on Thursday, October 18th to raise money for women’s tailoring courses in Afghanistan.  This will be a unique come and go event filled with food and music from the region as well as handcrafted items made in Afghanistan that will be available for purchase.

There will be wool carpets made by the women in our carpet weaving project in a remote village, vintage galim carpets that are famous from the area of Herat where Eternal Threads projects are located, hand-embroidered pillows, hand-loomed silk scarves, hand-blown glass and handmade jewelry from a women’s project in Herat.  A special showcase of this event will be new and vintage hand embroidered Suzani wall coverings and bedcovers.  These are unique pieces (like those seen at Pottery Barn) brought back from Afghanistan by Eternal Threads founder.  All proceeds from the sale of these unique items will be used to fund women’s projects.

The tailoring courses are a lifeline for women in Afghanistan, allowing them to learn a trade that can help support themselves and their families. Each six-month course will provide 10 women with a beautiful, hand-crank sewing machine (which only costs $55 in US dollars!), her training and sewing supplies, and then a micro loan so she can start a home business.  It’s amazing how much just a little of our resources can change another woman’s life!  Most of us are aware of how bad the living conditions are in Afghanistan, especially for women.  These courses are truly a life-changing event for them.

The event will be downtown Abilene at 181 Pine St. from 7 to 9 p.m.  Eternal Threads founder, Linda Egle and Colonel Kristina O’Brien, Dyess Air Force Base will be speaking at 8 p.m.  Tickets are only $15 each.  Proceeds from just the sale of one ticket will provide sewing supplies for three months for one woman.

If you live in Abilene, call 325.672.6000 to purchase tickets or stop by the office at 101 Walnut St.  Tickets will be on sale at our next Open House on October 13th