Women of Pakistan & The Lost Caravan

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Our sister Rabia lives in the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan, and needs our help with the new Roshni Women’s Centre. Below is the letter she sent. You can help if you will, by making a small donation or looking at the website of The Lost Caravan (at the bottom of the post) and perhaps purchasing one of the lovely scarves. Laury, who blogs on ProgressiveIslam.org, said this about them:

Salaams Everyone,
I bought some of those scarves from Pakistan that Rabia/Barbara is selling that benefits a women’s group in Pakistan. I looked at the website. Everything looked pretty. I picked out some figuring I would give some to friends. You know that kind of easy sadaqa shopping… “Oh its pretty and it helps the women, they’ll make nice presents.”

But then I received the scarves this morning.

They are so beautiful, so perfectly exquisite in quality, so lovely, so…..janna in scarves.

Some I bought are oblong and delicate with nearly see-through sections of jewel toned colors surrounded by a curving stream of paisley border, all beaded to the point of turning me into a woman I’ve never been, delicate, extraordinary, beautiful, feminine. I would wear hijab if all my hijabs looked like this. This is, though, that kind of hijab that doesn’t work because it makes you feel so beautiful that it is no hijab at all…..you simply shine in it and men fall at your feet.

Others are generously sized shawls of rich colors and patterns, beaded as well. My favorite is the celadon one with a deep paisley border with garnet colored and opalescent beads. I thought that one of these would be beautiful as a wall hanging or over the back of my favorite leather chair. Instead I have the celadon one draped over me in such a way that it is clear that I am so beautiful it is quite normal to have such things draped over me while I lounge in bed with tea and write e-mails.

Still others are plain shawls with no beading, one in a very light wool and then other darker and a little thicker. The borders are basic, simply done, woven into the cloth, these shawls are those beautiful simple things women wear in the winter that makes you wish it were cold out so you could wrap yourself in it, curl up on the couch with a cup of tea, and read a book, all by yourself, your treat to you.

How am I supposed to give any of these away to friends?

Sadaqa for the women there? No, this is sadaqa to me. May God enrich those women and reward them one thousand times over in this world and the next for how beautiful they are making me feel. May God help Barbara in her new non-profit helping these women in Pakistan that also helps us. God give her success and ease! Allah, Allah. This is one of those things in this world in which you can find nothing wrong with it, nothing at all. Just God’s Beauty.

Allah! Allah! Allah!


Rabia’s Letter:
The women in Pakistan are struggling to provide a fulfilling life for themselves and their families. Poverty is very extreme. In spite of this the Pakistani people are very generous and hospitable towards strangers. In today’s world it is important to build bridges between different nationalities, as we work towards peace.

The Roshni Centre for Women is very new. We opened our doors on May 10th, 2006 because of the dream of one woman: Nadia. During an interview for an article about “Women in Pakistan” (The Arcata Eye, January 17, 2006, page 9, “Pakistan Unveiled”) she was asked what she would like to change about her rural Pakistani village. She told us that most of the women living in her village spend their days at home. Few are employed, and because of some of the restrictions of the society in general and the poverty in particular, even if they wanted to go out, there were so few options of where they could go. Nadia spoke to other women and to me, Rabia (as I am known in Pakistan) and said that it was her dream to have a Women’s Centre in the village. With the financial help of 2 friends stateside we were able to open the doors of the Centre, yet we need more help to keep the Centre open and growing and to meet its daily needs.

The purpose of The Roshni Center for Women is to offer some hope to the women living here in rural Pakistan. We want it to be both educational in that women have a possibility for self-improvement, for example through learning a skill such as sewing their own clothing, an exercise class, some basic computer skills, discussing health issues, and learning about how they can use their skills as a source of income. A possibility of the Centre becoming self-sufficient in the future is that the women can sell their handmade items to an export company, which in turn would sell the items outside of Pakistan. We want the village to have a place where women can come and share both problems and ideas; we want a place where they can be supportive of each other. We hope in the future to become a micro lending corporation as well so that we have the possibility of helping the women who attend. We will put aside a small percent of every donation we receive in order to help the women in emergencies and in setting up businesses of their own. They in turn will invest in The Roshni Centre in order to help other women.

Roughly 25 women and teenage girls make use of the Centre at this point in time. We have 8 sewing machines, so that the girls must do a lot of doubling up. They are often sad at not having enough sewing machines to go around. There is also a strong interest in learning how to use an embroidery machine, as embroidered cotton is quite expensive and yet very much sought after.

Nadia is the Director of the Centre and the liaison between the women and the Board of Directors. She is well known in the village and respected among the women. Her family is very supportive of what she is trying to do in her village.

We are in the beginning stages of making The Roshni Centre for Women an official non-profit corporation in California. We have a board of directors, 3 of whom live in California, the other 2 in Pakistan. Should you feel in your heart that you can help us in any way small or large you can make donations to “The Roshni Centre for Women”. In Pakistan a little goes a long way. If you would like updates on our work, please send us your email address as well. Shukria, shukran and thank you very much.

Contact us:
Barbara Keshan Rousta (Rabia)
P.O. Box 95
Samoa, Ca. 95564
or at thelostcaravan@yahoo.com

Peace be with us all!

5 Responses to Women of Pakistan & The Lost Caravan

  1. Maliha says:

    thanks for the link, can’t wait to get some gorgeous scarfs… a woman can’t have enough of those:)

    hey, i ordered your book yesterday, finally. I can’t wait to read it inshaallah:)

  2. Salaam Dear Sister Maliha:
    I am sure the scarves will make you even more lovely, as they are for a good cause.
    And I do hope, inshallah, you enjoy the book :)

    Ya Haqq!

  3. Rabia says:

    Sister Maliha!

    I have many of the scarves and shawls here in California as I am trying to help my husband and my sisters in Pakistan from here right. You can email me requests at http://www.thelostcaravan@yahoo.com or though the website. I can also add you to the list of those who would like a periodical update on the Roshni Centre in Pakistan.


  4. nancy evens says:

    Hi Rabia,

    Thank you for all that you are doing in support of the Roshni Centre. I met you at the Chico fundraiser where I enjoyed a wonderful evening and bought some lovely presents from Lost Caravan.

    I’d like to receive newsletters, etc about Roshni.

    Best to you.


  5. Irving says:

    Hi Nancy:
    You can contact Rabia by clicking on her name in the comment above, or through the Lost Caravan website which is under the Uncatagorized section of the blogroll to the right :)

    Peace and Many Blessings!

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