Canadian Red Cross / Afghan Red Crescent Society Stitching Kit

Date / Period
2009
Place
Afghanistan
Object Type
Other
Credit
Canadian Red Cross
Topics
International Humanitarianism and Presence Disaster Management

For over 30 years, the Canadian Red Cross has played a role in humanitarian efforts within Afghanistan as its internal infrastructure fractured. For many years, this primarily involved funding international assistance programs, but within the past decade Canadians have taken a more participatory approach, especially in helping the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) build the capacity to deliver stronger disaster management and response. 

Over the course of a year-and-a-half, the Red Cross worked with the ARCS to build long-term solutions to manage humanitarian issues. It was critical to gain support within Canada for new programs, and earn the trust of Afghans that initiatives were undertaken in good faith to provide higher quality, more efficient responses to any crisis. 

The program, supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, was officially started in April 2013 and is scheduled to run through 2017.

“Now I can solve my own needs, besides sewing clothes for other people to make money and buy the necessities for my children.”

One of the promotional tools used to raise awareness was a stitching kit. Containing basic sewing tools, the kit was given out during talks at venues such as college campuses, and provided to donors in appreciation of their contribution. They were also sent to Afghanistan as mementos, symbolizing how a low budget, simple kit could change a client’s life by giving them the skills to earn income for their family.

Building employment skills was vital to one joint Red Cross/ARCS project. Inside ARCS’s headquarters in Kabul is a marastoon, a refuge centre for women and children. When it was running out of funds, the Red Cross invested around $170,000 to upgrade the facility, creating a training centre to allow women to move out of the centre and back into the community. 

One student, Momena, described the value of her school near Kabul this way: “I have learned a lot from our tailoring course. Now I can solve my own needs, besides sewing clothes for other people to make money and buy the necessities for my children. We also had literacy class which helped me to learn how to measure clothes and help my kids with their school subjects.” 

Canadian Red Cross / Afghan Red Crescent Society Stitching Kit

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