I must confess I have been going to the post office lately in heightened anticipation of that first yellow slip announcing the arrival of the first handmade scarves, and this week the first box came! From Judith. In Florida. I have very little idea who she is, or how she heard about the Scarf Initiative, which has had a life of its own, and generated ripples in hearts throughout America, the UK and Canada, and beyond. I only know Judith is a very kind person and sent not one, but two beautiful scarves, here framed by my own two contributions, above. Don’t they look amazing?? Judith thoughtfully included a little blue hat with the blue scarf, and, of course, I cried. It is not hard to imagine how much some little girls in Pakistan are going to appreciate our scarves.
Much has transpired since I posted the idea to knit scarves for Pakistani schoolgirls. Hurdles to jump. Bridges to cross. You know. First unexpected event was finding out that the Central Asia Institute is only equipped to handle financial gifts, as in money. (Gulp.)
“It’s better to ride the horse in the direction he’s going.”–Werner Erhard
Undaunted I used my resources and reached out to a world-renowned award-winning Pakistani trekker, the President of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, and an extraordinary humanitarian, who was a leader in assisting victims of the Pakistani earthquake in ’05, Nazir Sabir. He holds the distinguished honor of being the first Pakistani trekker to reach the summit of Mount Everest. His background gives him the best credentials to run Nazir Sabir Expeditions. And his kind warm heart and breadth of experience give him the best credentials to be our current Pakistani Angel. When I wrote to Nazir Sabir humbly asking if he might assist us with a small endeavor, here was part of his immediate response:
Dear Kathryn Hall,
It is indeed a pleasure to learn that you have been inspired to help girl students of Pakistan where your generous contribution of any kind could help…I have my own operational office in Skardu and I have trustworthy contacts in the entire Baltistan. It would be our pleasure to assist you with distributing your items among school children in Skardu or in any other remote part of Baltistan so your donation should reach the right individuals/persons…it would be better to give them either to the most deserving in terms of need or to those who are at studies at a school.
With best regards,
More tears. Deep gratitude. A flurry of emails has followed, and we agreed that the scarves will be delivered to one of the most remote villages in the Northern Areas of Pakistan–Askole village. And in an extraordinary gesture of kindness, Nazir Sabir offered to send us back photos of the children with their new scarves when they receive them! You can bet I will be posting those! Askole is literally the last stop of civilization prior to stepping out onto the Baltoro glacier that each trekker must travel in order to ultimately reach K2, the second tallest mountain in the world. Many of the men who live in Askole serve as porters on these treks. Repeatedly I have read stories on trekker blogs of these porters who work wearing plastic sneakers, asking, “How do they do it?” Warmth is a luxury not afforded many. Here is a map showing where our scarves are going:
At the end of this journey we find the typical home in Askole village. It would not be hard or unrealistic to imagine this very home might well contain one of our offerings.
Here is a photo sent to us by Nazir Sabir of Askole in the summer:
You must be wondering by now how many scarves we have commitments for. I am thrilled to announce that we have 78!! (It keeps changing!) Here are the names of people who have contacted me with the number of scarves they intend to send in:
Many thanks go to Barbara (1), Bee (1), Ceecee (1), Christy (1), Claire (2), Cynthia, Jenny and friends (5), CurtissAnn (1), Cynthia T. (1), Dee (1), Debbie and her mom (7!), Dorothy (1), Elly (1), Helen (1), Jayne (2), Jo Ann (5), Judith (2, plus a hat), cousin Julie & Susan (4), Karen and Betsy (3), Linda (1), Mary (1), Mashala (2), Marjorie (1), Mita (1), Nancy (1), Nancy (1), Nancy’s mom (2), cousin Nancy S. (1), Pat (1), Patricia (1), Philip (1), Purmina (1), Radiance (2), cousin Susan (2), Tahera & Kusum (13!), cousin Tricia (1), VP (1), Barbara (1), Kathy (1). Oh, yeah, self (2). Wow. Overwhelming generosity. And people continue to contact me nearly every day. Check this one out, on its way now from the UK:
OK, this brings up two things.
First, there is probably someone practical out there who by now is asking, “How will you get the scarves from California to Islamabad?” Right? Yes, I thought so. I’m a trusting soul. I’ve explored a variety of avenues so far and the overarching threads are simplicity and security. To me that spells FED EX. I internally have more or less decided that how I will feel most at ease is to write a cheque and be done with it. This week my next door neighbors (some of you will recall the American Gothic photo of Dave) returned from an RV trip and I was delighted to update them on the status of the Scarf Initiative and to show them the above scarves. I returned home, feeling glad in my heart. Five minutes later the phone rang. It was Jean, Dave’s wife who said, “Kathryn, Dave and I have talked this over and we are donating one hundred dollars to help you get your scarves to Islamabad.” Wow. Stunned silence, my heart opening and more tears quietly tracing a little river down my cheeks.
It’s magical, my darlings. Thank you for joining me in this adventure of the heart and spirit. We are tapping into goodness here.
I want to say in closing this post for any lingering little cobwebby thoughts on the edges of your minds (I had the same little nagging wonderings), Askole village and the Northern Areas of Pakistan are blessedly too remote to be affected by the travails we are hearing about on our television screens lately. Please join me in praying for the well being of our Pakistani Angel, Nazir Sabir, and his countrymen and women, and particularly the children whom we are committed to helping.
Warm and gentle blessings, in gratitude to all participating,
Postscript: Note that as scarves arrive by mail, I will be posting a photo in this space to show progress for those of you interested! Please just return to this post to peek in on how the project is growing! Here are beautiful scarves from Marjorie in CA, Helen in the UK, and Jo Ann (a very generous weaver in Ashland, OR!). Thank you, all! I wish each of you could share the joy of opening these incredible packages as they are arriving! I promise to keep this photo section updated so you can participate in the joy of the beauty.
Scarves from Karen and Betsy in CT
Scarves from VP in the UK and cousin Nancy in CT
Scarves from Pat in MT and Mita in MD
Scarves of cousins Susan and daughter Tricia in UT
Scarves from cousins Julie and daughter Susan in OH
Scarves from Radiance in CA and CurtissAnn in OK (center scarf)
11/5-Note: new update with more photos pending!
Part Two: Ship the Scarves Initiative!: My Fed. Ex. office weighed our four scarves and projected the final bill for 63 scarves: $514.00. [10/23--Note: as scarves have continued to come in--now 78, not 63, this "final bill" will obviously increase. More funds will need to be raised. KH] My cousins Susan and Nancy each immediately chipped in $50. We have my neighbor’s contribution of $100. CurtissAnn has sent another $25! Kusum and Tahera have sent $50! Note! As of 10/11/08 we HAVE COVERED costs of the Fed Ex bill!! Special thanks to Brenda for sending in the last $42! Many thanks to Veronica, Barry, Karen & Betsy, Pamela, Luther, Justine, Conny, Patty, Dick, Pat, Philip, David, Radiance, Kathy and Marilyn for their generous support! I personally am prepared to cover whatever duties are imposed upon the shipment. Also, I have purchased a dozen pairs of socks to sweeten the package. To all who contributed, thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Posted on October 4th, 2008 by Kathryn
Filed under: The Scarf Initiative