Monday, March 14, 2011

Empowerment

I cannot sit and chat with you
the way I'd like to do
so brew yourself a cup of tea
I'll think of you,
you think of me.
The first two lines of this verse is what I imagine author Deborah Rodriguez might have her character Sunny say to her customers in the book A Cup of Friendship. Sunny is an American who owns a successful coffee shop business in Kabul. Each of the women who come to the cafe have a story to tell and a secret that will lead them to forming extraordinary friendships along the way. Since the author spent several years in the country and co-owned a coffee shop, she has crafted a fictional story that draws on her own experiences.
If you are interested in books about foreign cultures and would like to know more about the current conditions women face in Afghanistan then you would enjoy this novel as well as her first one The Beauty Shop of Kabul. This book is a memoir of her experiences living for five years in Kabul opening a training beauty school.
The author's real life is quite fascinating. She is an American hairdresser who went to Afghanistan as part of a humanitarian group after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Once there she became involved in setting up a beauty school training program to certify Afghanistan women to become self-sufficient and earn a living. She remained there five years and also became a co-owner of a coffee shop. During this time Ms Rodriguez married knowing her Afghanistan husband only 49 days. In 2007 she was forced to flee the country with her son fearing for their safety from her husband who was an assistant to a warlord. Currently she lives in Mexico.
Since the Kabul Beauty School closed a new program called The Kabul Beauty School Oasis Rescue has been formed. One of their projects is called Beauty Shop in A Box. I was intrigued by the project concept since it gives women in refugee camps, disaster stricken or post conflict areas opportunities to start up their own business to help generate income and ultimately become self-sufficient. Follow this link to learn more.
Both books are interesting reads and informative to learn about the possibilities for educating and empowering women who live in areas where they have fewer rights than men.

Check back tomorrow for recipes to help in your planning for upcoming St. Patrick's Day celebration.
Irish Beef Stew-Cabbage Salad and Grasshopper Pie.

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