Rubia’s programs address poverty through livelihoods, education, and heritage handwork. Named for a red root used to dye yarn, Rubia translated 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.


Above: “Catherine Rielly explains the mission of Rubia in Afghanistan: to educate women and empower them to earn an income through embroidery, a traditional craft, in order to become active members of their families and communities.” On April 20th 2011, the Crimson covered her talk on Girl's Education in Afghanistan at the Kennedy School.

Threads of Change

In response to the intersecting problems of illiteracy, poverty,  and lack of women's rights in Afghanistan, Rubia created "Threads of Change" (ToC). We launched ToC  in two provinces, Nangarhar  and Farah, in 2011.  Click here for Fact Sheet highlighting ToC.

While participating in guided discussions with the aid of a skilled facilitator, women learned how to embroider illustrations of the lessons promoting family health and hygiene, women’s rights to education and voting, banning child marriage, and women as conflict resolvers. Embroidering these images introduces basic information that seclusion and illiteracy have blocked from their lives. Each participant received and brought home a booklet with a set of illustrations, each bearing a different message, such as hand washing, breast-feeding, immunization, voting rights and female literacy. 

Targeted at non-literate women, “Threads of Change” communicates visually.

For example, while embroidering a mother breastfeeding, women have heard about its advantages over bottle-feeding for their babies’ health. Traditionally, a woman holding a Koran, as in the illustration below of two fighting boys, signifies the need for peace. While copying this design, the women absorb the importance of resolving disputes through peaceful means.


While re-creating an image of children washing their hands –with soap, the women are poised to absorb the importance of using soap for good health and hygiene.  

To learn more about Rubia’s work in mending Afghanistan stitch by stitch, read this article!



Rubia offered home-based basic education for men and women in Darrai Noor. Opportunities for education have been limited and women are eager for the chance to join literacy classes.

Distributing 3500 Chicks to School Children

Purchasing Uniforms for Students

Providing School Supplies


Bringing Shoes for School


Rubia is making a difference in Afghanistan by…

  • Training more than 800 women in fine embroidery skills

  • Creating 20 home based literacy education courses

  • Supplementing 2 elementary schools and a high school with school supplies and teaching aids

    Help Rubia continue to make a difference by purchasing our products or donating!