The Scarf Initiative: The Little Project That Could!

Well, dearest readers, we did it! Seventy warm, beautiful scarves, four precious hats and 15 pairs of socks will shortly be on their way to Islamabad! How can I begin to thank all of you who labored with love stitch by endless stitch thinking all the while of those disadvantaged little girls who will soon own something to help keep them warm through the long deep dark winters of the Northern Areas of Pakistan? And mind you, own something nearly unimaginable. Try to fathom that one. Our benefactor on the other end of this long journey awaits these scarves with open heart and benevolent will to be certain our gifts arrive in those dear little hands in remote Askole village. This morning I received a letter from Nazir Sabir, our partner in this endeavor. He writes:

“Your update on Scarf Initiative has given us to believe that there are people who still think for other than their own selves. It is indeed heartening to learn that so many people are involved in this noble task and their eagerness to help children of north is commendable. The people in your community have done a wonderful job and a great contribution to protect and provide warmth to these deserving girls…I’ll arrange for my own office representative who is also from the same area to go and personally distribute in person. He will be asked to take pictures while handling them and also while the girls wearing their beautiful scarves– we will send those photographs soon after we get them here. Once again thank you for your kind gesture. We look forward to receiving the scarves and to continue the good work by contributing our humble share.”

I found this very touching. Remember, Nazir Sabir owns and maintains an expedition company in Pakistan. If you or anyone you know is interested in mountaineering and trekking he’s the go to man. Pakistan’s mountains are among the highest and most beautiful on the planet Earth. Maybe one of you will someday go to Askole village and meet some of our girls! You never know!

Young girl in Askole village during summer

Speaking of Askole, cousin Julie excitedly emailed me last week and suggested I use Google Earth to find Askole. I thought this was a splendid idea. Here’s what I did. I found Islamabad first. Then Skardu, as you must go to Skardu to get to Askole. And then I went to Askole. Stunning journey. You must try! It puts a whole new perspective on our project, I assure you!

Meanwhile I have been going to the post office daily checking for boxes. The tellers at the post office are following the adventure! “Three more scarves, Kathryn!” they’d call as I entered the doors. (This is the advantage of living in a small town.) Some of you will be aware that I religiously posted photos of the scarves for quite some time on the last post update. The balance follow. I invite you to drink in their beauty!

Cynthia, Jenny and Geri’s scarves

Radiance’s scarves from CA and Bee’s scarf from AZ

Kathy’s scarf from Iowa and Dorothy’s scarf from Utah

Claire’s scarves from CA and Elly’s scarf from PA

Barbara’s scarf from MD, Cynthia’s scarf from OR, Nancy’s scarf from Canada

Linda’s scarf from VT, Deb’s scarf from TX, Barbara’s scarf from Canada

Tahera’s 10 scarves from MD! (Oh, yes, she did!)

Kusum and her friend’s scarves from MD

Now wait until you see this! Kusum happens to be a teacher. She told her children about the Scarf Initiative and inspired them and they set to work knitting for the Pakistani schoolgirls! My favorite part of this story is the little boy who fashioned knitting needles out of chopsticks! Here are their contributions. How dear is this??? (Note, I’ve included large one from mother Tahera in this grouping.)

Kusum’s classroom kids’ scarves (and large one from Tahera), from MD

Now here was a twist. I had received email from Deb in TX asking if it was OK for her mom to make some scarves of fleece. In California fleece means sheeps’ wool, and it will be spun. I said, “Sure!” Wasn’t I surprised to learn when I opened the package that in Texas fleece means polartec! What I decided to do was to combine these six red scarves with the contents of the next package I will share, and have that special package be “for the boys.” Who knows how it will actually go, but that’s what I’m projecting! Here’s are Deb’s mom’s warm, soft offerings. Mmmm. Polartec! Brilliant!

Then this other package arrived with not just a scarf, but these wonderful treasures.

Gorgeous socks and caps from Linda in VT. (Yes, I do want those red socks! How did you know?? But I will be good and send them along to someone who needs them far more than I!)

I am trying to find someone who can help me write “These are for the boys” in Urdu or Balti. Let’s see how that goes. Oh, wait! I just remembered. Balti does not have a written language. It is an oral tradition. Well, that’s not handy. How about a photo of a little boy wearing one of the caps and a red scarf? Yes, I can do that. Thank God for imagery.

Now, here is a surprise. It was a surprise to me, too. As I trekked to the post office and opened these incredible gifts and placed them carefully in ever-growing stacks on the dining room table I gradually realized there was no way I could just put them all in a box and close the lid and send them off, unseen, to Pakistan. I grabbed a stack of scarves and went down to see my friend Nicole who owns and runs Tierra Art Garden Wine, a beloved local watering hole (sporting a lovely garden patio) and said, “We have to show these to the community. Can I have an evening?” Bless her heart, she simply opened her calendar and pronounced an available date. So! The evening of November 20th the scarves are all going on display at Tierra, which is as precious a corner as you would like to imagine! And the local paper wants to write about it as “an inspiring story.” Isn’t that amazing? I so wish each of you could be there. Just know your contributions will be acknowledged here in a small town in California (and the dream lives on).

And the morning of November 21st the scarves will say goodbye to California and continue their long journey to Pakistan.

I will take great pleasure in posting photos of the girls with their scarves as soon as I receive. Please be patient. It is already winter in Pakistan, the Karakorum Highway is undoubtedly ridden with fallen rocks and slides, and flights from Islamabad to Skardu, due to weather and tall mountains, are rough under any circumstances. (I am currently reading Thin Air by Greg Child, a trekker, who reported a story that folks trying to get into Skardu on a plane were turned back mid-flight fourteen times! It’s a different reality.) It would be wonderful if you visualize that all the scarves enter Pakistan effortlessly and arrive in Askole with remarkably little fuss to happy surprised children.

Thank you so much, dear readers, for joining me in this wonderfully creative and heartful venture! If your notes are any indication you’ve found this project as uplifting and inspiring as I. It has been my honor to receive your gorgeous gifts and to pass them along to these precious children. We also owe Nazir Sabir a huge thank you for his kind and generous support! Thank you, Nazir Sabir! And thank you again my dear dear readers far and wide!

Love and many blessings, in gratitude,
Kathryn xoxo

PS: Special thanks to those who included extra $ for the Fed. Ex. shipment. I think I have enough. I’ll find out soon! I’m awaiting three “late” scarves. When they arrive I will take everything to be weighed for a final tally! –I’ve just added fifteen pairs of little gloves (from Ross) after receiving a letter from Bruce Hagan, of Global Medical Rescue Services, who runs an expedition medical clinic in Askole in July. He says, “For the most part their clothing is very worn and tattered…Scarves, mittens, socks and hats will all be valued items.”

Little baby gloves, $1 apiece at Ross (Come ON!)

Doesn’t it just make you weep? I am determined to help. Thank you for helping me adopt Askole’s children. Clearly it could not be done without each of you. If you want to add anything it is not too late, as long as it’s here by the 20th. Any extra $ will go to more mittens! xoxoo

Small children in Askole

51 Responses to “The Scarf Initiative: The Little Project That Could!”

  1. Welcome, Jeannie! Thank you so very much for your very kind words! Your last comment really gave me a good laugh! I will not be one bit surprised to be referred to as The Scarf Lady! LOL! And I would be deeply honored if you used a photo of the scarves and linked back. I do think this is a story that will resonate as an inspirational story, and there’s always a need for that. I have Khaled Hosseini (re: Afghanistan) and then David Oliver Relin to thank for pointing towards Pakistan. And there is no escaping that there is something deep, something soulful, something passionate about the whole thing for me personally. IT is going somewhere. I’m just Following the Psychic Breadcrumbs, as I call it. 🙂 Thanks for the visit. Kathryn xoxox

  2. Kathryn, I’m so glad you’ve updated this post (it was fun to see “my” scarf!). What a thoughtful way to display the scarves. Perhaps there will be even more support for a project next year!! (Either the same location or another?) Thank you again for initiating this wonderful project in which we can make the world a little smaller! xxooxx to you!

  3. Hi, S.G., I think there will be “even more support” for a project next year. There is a lot of energy around this project. I promise to do my humble best to continue to be of service to this unfolding, wherever it takes us.
    Kathryn xoxo

  4. Kathryn, it’s so wonderful to see the love and caring that has burst forth through this project. Thank you so much sharing with all of us. I started reading Three Cups of Tea at the same time I started my first scarf, and finished the book about the same time as my last scarf. I felt as if I was crocheting for people I knew and loved (and in reality, we MUST all know and care for each other). I like to think my heart is just a little bit bigger because of this experience, so thank you. And, as luck would have it, we will be traveling through Ukiah on the 20th on our way to Mendocino, so hopefully we can stop by Tierra and see all this wonderful love in person! Radiance

  5. Hi, Radiance! I’m absolutely delighted to hear you did read Three Cups of Tea. I would recommend that anyone who participated in this project who has not read the book yet to treat yourself. Reading the book will so deepen your experience of your participation. I guarantee you. (You can’t get it from here.), And, Radiance! How thrilling to hear you will be in town the day of the showing of the scarves! Tears of joy,my dear! We will have to coordinate! The actual event is from 5-7, but we will be hanging the scarves earlier in the day out on the large covered patio! Bravo! Kathryn xoxo

  6. […] what caught my attention was the scarf created by Barbara from Canada. Have a look. It’s hard to miss, it’s in scarf portrait number 7. The colour sense is different from […]

  7. Hi, Balcony Gardener! Thanks for the pingback and the insightful commentary! I noticed same immediately. Barbara’s tones were much more earthy. Nicole and a friend of hers were both drawn to that particular scarf. (Yes, we played, “Which are your favorites?” with people, as it was a fun way to engage visitors!) I love how you have imagined which plants Barbara would be inclined to plant. So, Barbara,do tell! No petunias?? 🙂 Kathryn xox

  8. Hi kathryn – I was wondering whether you had heard that the scarves had arrived – I may have missed this though.

  9. Hi, Helen, I’ ve been logging all updates on the last post about the scarves. Currently the Karakoram Mts. are still snowed in, so not passable. Soon! Seems we are all waiting for spring! Kathryn xoxo

  10. Hi,
    I was reading your Scarf Initiative and wanted to share with you what hearts for giving our children have. My 5 year old grandson said last Winter, “Grandma, we need to help the world.” It was his desire to help the homeless, so during the Summer we put together “Indian Streets & Fundraisers to Help Homeless Kids” in our city of Escondido, CA. Since we are of Native American heritage we took Indian artifacts and information, along with fundraisers featuring items for $1 or less, to the Summer Schools in our town (we had to get permission from the head of the District Offices first). We reached 1000 kids from 10 schools K-8 and raised enough money to provide 24 backpacks filled with school supplies for homeless students. My grandson, Dakota, his cousins Blake (14) and Taylor (10) and Taylor’s best friend Natalie (10, whose mother was going through chemotherapy at the time) gave the project their best, sweetest, most positive efforts. Kids reaching kids really works! Welda

  11. Hi, Welda, This is a very sweet story. How touching that your dear grandson opened his heart to help the world, and enlisted his cousins and best friend to help–and did it! Congratulations. Please give him a big hug for me, will you? Thank you for sharing. Kathryn xoxo

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