The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is a very interesting story of how 5 sisters survived and succeeded in remaining safe during the occupation of the Taliban of Kabul, Afghanistan. The book tells how educated women figured out how to remain safe and how to include their community in surviving the strict and oft times horrific treatment by the new regime. This is a story of how women keep a culture continuing and providing for their family and especially their children’s needs.
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is primarily the story of one young entrepreneur who actually takes big risks and blossoms after her father challenges her to help her younger sisters survive and to assist the community in need. At first, she organizes a book exchange program so that all the women in her neighborhood can keep learning despite the boredom of being sentenced to their own homes. Her older sister moves into the family home with her 4 young children (one set of newborn, frail twins) and this sister is a talented teacher and dress designer/tailor. As the men of the households must disappear to remain safe these two sisters, the marketer and the tailor, must think ahead and figure out what needs to be done to feed all the children and to survive.
Under the chadri, with only a tiny screen for vision the young woman, Kamila would venture forth with her 14 year old brother as her chaperone to figure out what their world needed and how this group could provide it. With the war still going on in the north, it became apparent that the women who could design and sew dresses and pantsuits which complied would get paid for their efforts.
At first the sewing needed to be accomplished by hand, because there were not enough machines and only electricity for a few hours each day. They taught each other how. Kamila learned to go to further away markets to obtain fabric which was more cost effective and would increase income. They set up an apprentice program for other women in the neighborhood and they designed work schedules which would not draw attention to women coming and going from their residence.
Men not related to women were not allowed to speak to a woman and so Kamila and her young brother had to be very careful about how they worked.
I think this book elevates women all over the world. As Kamila has gone forward to become part of the UN team and a microloan expert in assisting other women to use their skills and build their communities, her story goes on to inspire other women and draw attention to the “quiet” women all over the planet who just get busy and roll up their sleeves and figure out how to make the world a better place.
“Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, the author, is a Fellow and Deputy Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributing editor-at-large at Newsweek and the Daily Beast. Her reporting on conflict and post-conflict zones – including Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Rwanda – has been published in the New York Times, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, and elsewhere.“ from the book jacket
Lemmon at TEDx
This book has been on the New York Times Bestseller List and is well worth the read to increase understanding, lift up women and inspire you to be your best. I highly recommend the Dressmaker of Khair Khana.
“ A celebration of women in the world over.” People Magazine
This book was sent to me for review by TLC online book tours and Harper Press
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How do you inspire others in your life? How do you remain safe in tough circumstances?