Scarf Initiative Update!

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.

“Young girl in Skardu” Photo courtesy of Saqib Zulfiqar

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,
Nazir Sabir

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:

Now, ready? Here is a section of the road that must be traversed to arrive in Askole. This was not a good day for these particular trekkers, but from what I’ve read, these “delays” happen.

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:

And here is their backyard:

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,
Kathryn xoxo
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. πŸ™‚

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!

33 Responses to “Scarf Initiative Update!”

  1. Kathryn, ours will be on the way soon. glad to see what has come in so far. Very very pretty.


  2. Good evening, Deb! Thank you so much! I can’t wait to see your creations! It’s so exciting on this end! Hugs! Kathryn xoxo

  3. Wow, Kathryn! The scarves look fabulous! Can’t wait to seen everyone else’s! I love the idea of getting to see our scarves “in action” in Askole. (Sounds like those poor trekkers could sure use some warm knitted socks, too, but they’re sadly beyond my ability.) I was furiously knitting last night while watching “American Beauty”—quel irony!—and enjoying the view of my own cheerful scarf taking shape for a little girl who’d love bright colors. I still have a few feet to go, but will make sure it’s in the mail to you in time for your Nov. 1 deadline. Bless Jean and Dave for contributing to the shipping costs, and bless you for undertaking this venture!!!

  4. Hi, Our Friend Ben! Yes, it’s very exciting! Can’t wait to see your cheerful scarf! And, yes, the poor trekking porters could use some assistance, too. Sigh. I just finished reading Rory Stewart’s account of walking the entire of Afghanistan (just after 9/11, if you can believe that) and every night he hopes to have his socks dried by a local villager, a luxury for those walking in snow day after day. And for the porters, apparently socks themselves would be the luxury. So glad we can have some small impact. Thanks for yours. πŸ™‚ Kathryn xoxo

  5. Mine’s going in the post tomorrow Kathryn. It’s great to get a peak (oops – didn’t mean to put a pun there!) at where our scarves will be going πŸ˜€

  6. Hi, VP! LOL! I can see why the thought of PEAKS would arise! I will be watching for your package!
    Lovely! Kathryn xoxo

  7. I have 2″ left to do on the one I am knitting. I feel quite humble that some are knitting so many but I tell myself that I do work full time so can only do so much. Hope to get it in the post to you in the next couple of days so it gets to you in time for your 1st November deadline.

    Thanks for filling us in on the area the scarves are going to, it has fueled me on to finish the last 2″s and I look forward to seeing the photos when the girls get the scarves.

  8. Welcome, Helen! Don’t spend a single second wishing you could do more. Most of us are knitting one scarf and it’s an effort to do that. I was only going to knit one scarf (you saw the photo) and someone wrote to me privately and gave me a little advice on knitting scarves that didn’t “curl” at the edges. Yikes! After stewing for two days on whether to tear the whole thing up and start over (vetoed, happily, by the local yarn woman), I decided to not listen to my well intentioned Perfectionistic Critic and instead knit a second one that “didn’t curl.” I’m glad I did. By the end of that one I was thinking, “That is enough.” Your ONE scarf is heartily welcomed and is more than enough, my dear. It’s a blessing in the life of a little girl in Pakistan who otherwise might not have anything so nice and so warm. I’m thanking you now for her. Kathryn xoxx

  9. Dee of Red Dirt Ramblings says:

    I’m working on mine, Kathryn. Diligently. This is a wonderful things you’re doing.~~Dee

  10. Thanks, Dee. I had to post your comment. For some strange reason it would not go through. Kathryn

  11. Wonderful, Mom! This project was such a great idea, and it’s so heart-warming
    to hear of the support, progress being made and see pics! Lovely!
    Love you,

  12. Hi, Antonia! Thanks so much for the loving feedback. It’s appreciated. Much love, Mom xoxo

  13. Wow, what a generous heart you have, Kathryn! Your post was thoughtful and full of information that was completely unknown to me until now.
    God bless your efforts-
    Shirley Bovshow

  14. Finished mine (with curly ends!!!) and will be posting it on my way home tonight.

  15. Hi, Shirley! It’s been quite an adventure. And learning is very much in the mix. I’m realizing that everything I knew about Central Asia had been pretty much dominated by what I’d heard in the news–in not a great context. I think the biggest surprise is to realize what a Force for Good the trekking community is in these remote areas. Because Askole is on the trekker’s map (they HAVE to go there to get to K2, etc.) they have returned to build a medical clinic (Italian trekkers) and an aquaduct for clean water. Utterly fascinating unreported stories! Thanks for the visit and the well-wishes! Kathryn xoxo

  16. Hi, Helen! Thank you so much! I’ll be watching! Kathryn xoxo

  17. I pray your initiative will continue to be blessed and you’ll find a way to put the scarves in the hands of those who need them. Nancy (my sister) said she (like me) gets a great deal of pleasure as she works on the scarf, thinking about the girl who will benefit from her labors. What a blessing to be able to give to those in need.

  18. Hi, Susan–Thank you so very much for contributing to the Fed. Ex. fund. So generous of you! I am confident it will fall in place. There are angels in the wings. πŸ™‚ Love, Kathryn

  19. What another lovely story to inspire my day. I can’t wait to see pics of the girls in their scarves! There are few things in life that give such lasting satisfaction as giving to others from one’s labors and heart.

  20. Honey, you have stepped out, and Great Forces come to your aid! How wonderful to learn of other females far around the world! Of course you will get the needed funds. I will send $50. This scarf initiative is a blessing to me. It awakens in me my joy for crochet, which calms me and also enlivens my old cat. I had to tear out a lot of stitching before I remembered how to crochet, but I’m just about finished now.


  21. Good morning, Nicole! Yes, those photos will be like gold to us! It’s interesting that I heard back from the Saqib who gave me permission to use that amazing photo of the little girl in Skardu, saying he planned to be trekking next yr. and would be passing through Askole. I told him (given that he’s a photographer) to keep an eye out for any “unlikely” scarves and if he saw any to send us some jpegs! That would be interesting! I am absolutely positive that these scarves will be the catalyst for individual stories. I wish they could telepath them back to us. I will include a letter in the box, and hope for the best. .And, yes, giving is a blessing. Kathryn xoxo

  22. Oh, CurtissAnn, bless you, my dear, for contributing to the shipping pot! Thank you so much! I am so glad you are enjoying the reengaging in crochet work. I can completely relate. I had not knitted in years, and I’m liking it immensely! And how dear that your kitty is enjoying it, too! Sweet. πŸ™‚ Big hug! Kathryn xoxox

  23. I really appreciate your effort whatever you have done. I thank you for bieng generous to our area. Further I would appreciate rather request you for such generous efforts in educating these people.

    Best Regards

  24. Hi, M. Ali, I hope you have read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin. That’s where the inspiration came for this project. And you are welcome. Kathryn

  25. K.
    What a lovely idea – just yesterday I found a bit of old wool that I thought I’d just toss – a lovely blue/green colour – now I know what I’ll do. I remember reading about Murray Dryden who started Sleeping Children Around the World – a very simple idea to provide bed kits for poor children. Murray died at age 92 in 2004 – but his wonderful project lives on. Your scarf project definitely has legs.

  26. Welcome, Barbara! I had not heard of Sleeping Children Around the World, but googled it. What a great project! Here’s the link: Thanks for joining us in knitting. 64 scarves is a good number. I will email you details! Kathryn xoxo

  27. This comment came in from Mehboob Ali, and was inadvertently posted to wrong post. I’m taking the liberty to bring over here. KH

    I am from Pakistan, and I am really wants to see my own country now. thanks to show the beautiful Pakistan.


  28. You will be surprised to know that when I typed ‘scarf iniative’ into my search engine your blog came up!!!!!

  29. Hi, Helen! That is an interesting tidbit. Thanks for sharing! I’ll put that in my thinking cap! There are a flurry of questions about whether this will be an annual affair. The Second Annual Scarf Initiative is a possibility. But I feel it’s best to get through one entire cycle prior to making that determination–though it is possible there are angels thinking it’s likely, and I do confess to a place in my heart saying how nice it would be to do this again and deliver the scarves next time to Hunza Valley where Nazir Sabir was originally from, as a way of honoring his participation in this first round. And there are folks just now hearing about the Scarf Initiative who want to participate–only to learn of the deadline and having to decline. And, yes, I am keeping their names. Time and hearts will tell. Thanks again for the heads up, Helen. Kathryn xxoox

  30. Hi Kathryn, I’m going to finish mine tonight (Tues) and send it tomorrow (Wed). Thank you for waiting for me! πŸ™‚

  31. Hi, Shady Gardener, Thanks for keeping me posted. We are wrapping up soon. Kathryn xox

  32. Hi Kathryn,
    Very good job. I was amazed after ‘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’.

    And scarves are beautiful.

    Good luck!

  33. Hi, Sami and welcome. Thank you so very much. This project will always be dear to my heart. Kathryn xoxo

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