Mending Afghanistan Stitch by Stitch:

Learning About Life in Afghanistan

Lovely dress and with close-up of detail

Fascinating Artifacts

Bracelet - The "Sound of Afghanistan"


Intricate embroidery

The Burka


"Learning About Life in Afghanistan" was the subject of a multimedia presentation and talk by linguist, feltmaker, scholar and photographer Rachel Lehr at Nesmith Library in Windham.

Co-founder of Rubia, the Afghan Women's Handwork project, Lehr spends several months each year in Afghanistan, working and living with village women and children.  Through compelling stories, brought to life by beautiful and informative visual images and a fascinating collection of domestic artifacts, Rachel takes us into the homes of ordinary Afghans.   Her photographs and personal anecdotes illuminate the rich cultural heritage of Afghanistan in a rapidly changing world.

Rubia is a non-profit organization which works to translate the heritage and skills of Afghan women into sustainable livelihoods. Lehr's presentation includes a traveling Afghan Culture Trunk of domestic artifacts which she has collected during her frequent stays in the villages of Afghanistan.

Lehr's academic training (in linguistics and Persian, at Barnard College and the University of Chicago) took her traveling across Central Asia during the 1970s-80s.  While studying and living in Iran, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan, she developed a deep interest in the culture and arts of the region, and in the lives of its women and children.

In 2000 Lehr reestablished contact with a community of Afghans then living as refugees in Pakistan. Following her first trip to Pakistan, she helped found Rubia, a nonprofit organization, as a response to the critical need for economic opportunities among Afghan refugee women living in Pakistan. Rubia's embroidery project is actively involved in helping rebuild Afghanistan through education, skills training and the promotion of hand-embroidered textiles.

For the past four years Lehr has been principal artist/scholar for the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire's "Heart of the Silk Road" Project, bringing arts and humanities workshops, seminars, teacher institutes and presentations to communities and schools throughout the state. The project has been supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, New Hampshire Humanities Council, and Plymouth State University.  Lehr is a juried artist on the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, Arts in Education and Community Arts rosters.  She teaches courses in Integrated Arts through Plymouth State University.

For information about the beautiful products available, go to the Rubia website.

Updated 05/04/07

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