July 21, 2011
Meet Shabir. Meet Shabir's gorgeous Lapis necklace. Learn about how Shabir has fought to build a future for himself and his family through jewelry.
Contact us to get on the waiting list for Shabir's jewelry collection, coming soon.
Meet Shabir's gorgeous Lapis necklace.
Shabir is a man of many talents. "Listen," he says through his translator, as he begins to hum a little tune. "This is the song I sing while working. I sing it often, it takes me to another place." The Skype goes in and out but I get to see a few turned up wrinkles and the sign of a smile.
There is an odd disconnect that takes place when speaking to someone in Afghanistan. With Skype you can't tell if someone is 100 feet or 1,000 miles away, and I might have forgotten with whom exactly I was speaking, but for those moments when the screen went blank as Shabir's computer struggled to keep us connected. In those moments, I tried to picture Shabir's life, I Google image'd Kunduz, the city where he lives.
Instead of Shabir's face, my screen was flooded with images of bullet holed buildings and bodies missing limbs. Horrible, excruciating pictures. But then Shabir was back, speaking quickly and in pantomime, as if he needed to translate himself, despite the professionial seated right next him. Shabir was describing his new jewelry workshop that he has just set up with five others. The shop has been a long time coming. This man has dodged the bullets and the bombs and has resisted the pull of the opium trade. With four kids, Shabir wants to set an example, no matter how risky it might. Hidden by a veil, our jeweler traveled to USAID’s office, the government agency that provides international economic and humanitarian assistance, where he learned the art of jewelry making. Shabir withdrew the certificate written in English emblazoned with the seal of USAID from a pristine folder. He showed it off with visible pride.
With his coursework complete, he was able to receive a microfinance loan from Bootstrap's partner, Child Fund Afghanistan Microfinance (CFA). They have helped him set up his shop and advised him on how to make his new business succeed.
“Do you enjoy making jewelry?” I asked.
I saw Shabir’s forehead wrinkle in confusion.
After a pause he began, “Of course, I do. Jewelry is the real Afghanistan, before the Taliban, before the war, this was our past and it’s my future. I will support my family with jewelry, and one day I will be famous jewelry designers and will teach my children the secrets that make Afghan jewelry so precious.”
We hear so much about how many of our tax dollars are going into reconstructing Afghanistan. It often times just seems like wasted money. But now I know Shabir and I can't wait to do my part to make his dream a reality.
Shabir is working hard with Bootstrap to develop a special collection, which will be launchin soon. Check back often to find it, or better yet, "like" us on facebook and you can be one of the first to be "wearing" Shabir.