Rubia, Inc. is a New Hampshire based non-profit organization (501c3) whose mission is to develop economic opportunities through craft heritage, to support education, and to promote health and well-being for women and their families in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Our partner on the ground is HOLD, Humanitarian Organization for Local Development, an Afghan registered NGO. Together we work to develop and implement innovative programs for women and children at the grass roots in Afghanistan.
Rubia’s programs address poverty through livelihoods, education, and heritage handwork. Named for a red root used to dye yarn, Rubia is creating new traditions in textiles by translating the heritage and skills of Afghan women into sustainable livelihoods. All aspects of the development and implementation of Rubia’s programs are rooted in Afghanistan, using community members at all levels to help build the economy and capacity in their home region.
Embroidery is the heart and soul of traditional Afghan textiles.
Traditionally, embroidery has been women’s handwork, done at home, between domestic chores, to enhance their surroundings. Rubia integrates these traditional elements with the new benefit of earning an income while maintaining fragile elements of their textile heritage: plant dyes, natural fibers, and designs drawn from ancient Afghan tribal patterns.
Sew Don’t Grow
Alternative livelihoods are the key to Afghanistan’s social and economic recovery. Subsistence farmers who had supported their families with poppy cultivation are now seeking other means of economic empowerment. Poppy flowers and other designs embroidered by women in the valley of Darrai Noor provide a legitimate source of income, a new tradition in textiles.
Building a sustainable business in a fragile environment
Empowering women while respecting a traditional lifestyle
Reviving and preserving traditional crafts
Using natural plant dyes and alternative energy sources
Working in the Afghan family context with little overhead costs
Supporting community members running their own business
Building skills at all levels through locally run workshops and training
Nurturing creative global partnerships through mentoring and environmental awareness
Rubia makes a difference:
More than 800 women trained in fine embroidery skills
20 home-based literacy education courses
2 elementary schools and one high school supplemented with school supplies and teaching aids
Proceeds from handwork sales and donations are used to support all aspects of Rubia’s work.