Tales from Craft Stories: Sharifa Bibi's Journey
Nestled deep within the heart of a refugee camp, a colony of Afghan families finds solace and unity, thanks to a United Nations project striving to provide shelter amidst the tumultuous situation in Afghanistan. Beyond the mere physical refuge, this colony becomes a haven for unrelenting talent, a sense of belonging, and camaraderie. Within its confines reside countless untold stories, waiting to be penned down in the pages of history. One such story, a testament to resilience, bravery, and unparalleled power, is that of Shareefa, a leading artisan at Craft Stories by Huma Adnan.
In this colony, every dwelling, every face, and every piece of crafted art tells a story – a narrative not only of love for the craft but a tale behind each ornament waiting to be revealed. As Shareefa sits in one of the modest houses, her story unfolds, echoing the struggles, perseverance, and fate that led her to Huma Adnan, an opportunity to create, and a chance to change her narrative. Shareefa's childhood memories are not painted with the naiveté and purity usually associated with that phase of life. Instead, she recalls the struggle, the perseverance, and the journey from Afghanistan to Pakistan. A history of violence and cruelty stain the canvas of her past. However, fate brought her to Huma Adnan, where she found more than just a job – she found an opportunity to learn, grow, and create.
Expressing gratitude for the training she received, Shareefa marks the United Nations collaboration with Craft Stories as a turning point in her life. From the dreary clouds of hopelessness and poorly compensated jobs, she emerged through vocational training in crafting ornaments. With every bead she adds to a necklace or every stitch on a mask, Shareefa pours her heart and soul into creating designs that transcend mere adornments and become symbols of resilience. Having witnessed war, terror, violence, and injustice, Shareefa draws a poignant comparison between her life in the refugee camp and her life back home. "It's easier here," she states, with a wave of relief washing over her, as she wipes away the tears that have formed when thinking about the life she has left behind.
For Shareefa, the opportunity to learn, work, and create is not just personal growth – it's a beacon of hope for all women. An empowered woman herself, she emphasizes the need for women to educate themselves or acquire skills that translate into monetary compensation, enabling them to sustain their families. While she acknowledges the inevitability of struggle, Shareefa believes in overcoming obstacles with the aid of faith and benevolent forces. "I am so grateful to Huma for the training," she remarks in Urdu.
Shareefa's story is one of power and hope, but it is one among many. Countless narratives like hers remain unheard, lacking the opportunity to break through and create. Initiatives such as the collaborative effort by the United Nations and Craft Stories by Huma Adnan become imperative, working in tandem to create opportunities and shine a light on these untold stories of resilience within refugee camps. In crafting empowerment, Shareefa's legacy becomes a voice for the voiceless, echoing the strength that arises from the most challenging circumstances.