Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Empowering Afghan Women Through Embroidery

Project #
Colby College
  • Sulaiman Nasseri

Embroidering Peace

Sulaiman Nasseri read a study that ranked his home country of Afghanistan as the worst place in the world for maternal well-being. This struck a chord, and he imagined a Project for Peace that would help destitute mothers in Kabul earn enough money to feed their families and send their children to school. His idea was to accomplish this through the teaching of the traditional art of Afghan embroidery, and then to bring the hand-embroidered goods to market in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Over the course of the summer, Sulaiman conducted three phases of his project. He first hired experienced embroiderers as trainers. Next, he worked with local organizations to find the most needy and highly motivated women to learn the embroidery techniques. Finally, after some weeks of training, participants took materials to their homes where they made up goods to be sold. The embroiderers are paid for their work, and roughly 10 percent of the profits go back into the program in order to expand and train more participants. The beautiful finished goods are marketed and sold in Afghanistan and through Etsy, an online marketplace.

From the outset, Sulaiman’s goal was not only to provide the women with the resources to help themselves, but to give them the means to get their children off the streets and into school. So far, more than 20 children have entered school, keeping them out of the child-labor market and making them less accessible targets for ever-present terrorist groups.