I am surprised how often I learn about great international initiatives through shopping. I recently bought one of these Peace Cord wristbands because I thought the mission of ARZU Studio Hope was so inspiring. “Arzu” means Peace in the Dari language, and this international organization helps women weavers of Afghanistan break the cycle of poverty by providing gainful employment, education, and healthcare by sourcing the rugs and other products they weave. Women in Afghanistan have very few socially acceptable avenues by which they can earn money and contribute financially to their families’ health…but there is a long tradition of weaving.
This artisan-based employment/empowerment mission is fantastic (and the rugs are amazing, by the way), and it is more nuanced than simply exporting woven goods. Workers for ARZU agree to a social contract, guaranteeing that all children of their families–boys AND girls–up to the age of 15 will attend school full-time, women attend literacy classes, and pregnant women and newborns receive pre- and post-natal medical care. ARZU also steps in to help equalize an industry that has a history of being fiercely unfair to women, and equalizes employment standards among artisans. It is a sustainable and somewhat revolutionary/evolutionary program that maintains cultural sensitivity so it can flourish in the long run. Take a spin around the website–do some shopping for your home (or wrist) and support women working so diligently to support themselves.
The Peace Cord bracelets are hand-woven by Afghan women from parachute cord and authentic military buttons, combining efforts of ARZU and Spirit of America, supporting the humanitarian work of US troops overseas.