Embroidered cards build schools in war-torn Pakistan | TheUnion.com

Embroidered cards build schools in war-torn Pakistan

The Union staff

Pakistani women are embroidering patches for notecards and other goods – for sale in western Nevada County – to raise money to build new schools and pay their teachers.

It’s part of a program that teaches women to read, write and figure – then the women go home and teach their husbands and children, Nevada County resident Greg Zaller said.

The women, “after a year or more of working and learning to make beautiful embroideries, are sending them over here for sale,” Zaller said.

They recently received “their first share of the profits: 24 cents each, $1.50 for the teachers and $3 per school to help fund a another school,” Zaller said.

“More money is coming, but the idea of them producing like this is transforming the areas we operate in, to seeing once-ignored women as essential players in moving beyond poverty and strife,” he added.

The schools were the inspiration of Zaller, a builder and teacher who first went to Pakistan in 2005 to help the people in one village replace their flattened homes after a devastating earthquake.

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Zaller was struck by the plight of the women in the village who lacked the education to take any part in community affairs.

He partnered with a young Pakistani educator to organize grassroots schools staffed by volunteer teachers. The idea was to teach the women to read and write so they could play a more active role. Within its first year, 2,000 women were enrolled in 22 schools in Sargodha and nearby villages in Punjab province, and there are requests for more schools.

To make the schools self-supporting, the women also have been learning for the first time to create needlepoint and embroidered pieces that they could sell profitably in the United States, with its higher currency value.

Local artist Gary Dini, who recently hosted a reception for his show “Interdimensional Landscapes” featuring the cards at Organic Grill in Nevada City, is seeking funds for a documentary, Zaller added.

In Pakistan, Zaller partnered with Aneel Mushtaq to start Little World Community Organization, coordinating the school and needlework programs.

The cards are for sale at California Organics, 135 Argall Way, Nevada City, and at other locations in western Nevada County. Organic Grill is the eatery inside the store.

Learn more about Little World Community Organization at http://www.lwco.org.

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