Afghan Hope Project
In a country ravaged by war, countless Afghan women have been left widowed with few resources and no means to advocate for themselves. Many are struggling to provide for their families, with little food, no heat or electricity, and no clear path forward.
But in the midst of this chaos, there was hope. In 2012, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) launched the Afghan Hope Project to aid Afghan military widows who lost their husbands fighting alongside American forces. The project sought out these widows and provided them with an opportunity to handcraft bracelets from precious Lapis Lazuli stones harvested in Afghanistan.
The raw Lapis was milled into beads by an Afghan women-owned business, and then crafted into beautiful bracelets by Afghan Army widows who had been trained as artisans in Kabul. Each bracelet sold provided these women with an income to support their families. The bracelets were then shipped to the United States, where they were wrapped with love and gratitude by TAPS.
For years, the Afghan Hope Project brought hope and empowerment to these women, as well as comfort to the families of fallen heroes in the United States. But with the recent Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the women are no longer able to come together to make the jewelry.
Despite this setback, TAPS remains committed to supporting these women and their families. The organization is now providing each widow with a stipend to help them as they navigate an uncertain future. TAPS is continuing to sell bracelets made by these widows, as well as new bracelets made here in the United States by program manager Bushra, who herself escaped from Afghanistan to help the widows of her homeland.
The Afghan Hope Project is a powerful reminder of the resilience and strength of women in the face of adversity. By supporting these widows and their craft, we can help to create a brighter future for everyone in Afghanistan. We can honor the sacrifices of those who have fought for peace and security, and we can stand in solidarity with those who continue to fight for a better tomorrow.
Artwork by Paige Payne