Le Jardin, the restaurant where the fashion show was to take place, is a new restaurant. To me, it is slightly similar to an old favorite, Le Bistro. Walking into the restaurant (after passing through a series of check points, purse search and a body scan with a hand held metal detector--the airport isn't so bad) you come across the low dark wood coffee/display tables with glass tops that allow you to peak in to see a about a cup full of assorted cut gems laid out in white bowls. Afghanistan is famous for its Lapis Lazuli, Emeralds, Azure, Rubies, Kunzite, etc. (see NPR for more info) and they are for sale everywhere popular on the expat circuit cut, uncut, as individual stones and imbedded in jewelry. The walls of the dinning room are covered in rugs for sale though the selection is limited.
However, today we were not there to shop for rugs and gems, but for handmade clothing, jewelry, bags and scarves by the woman who runs Razia's Ray of Hope, Razia Jan. We finally sat down around 11 am and ordered the brunch. Waiting for the food, I went to check out the silent auction which contained several types of necklaces, a painting, a rug, a water set, a bronze vase and drum looking thing. Loved one necklace and earring set but did not bid. Went to the area they called the "bizarre" that was full of amazing things and got so overwhelmed I had to go back to the brunch table. I looked at the nicely printed brochure describing the foundation and made a commitment to buy a few things that day.
The fashion show and entire event was to raise money for the Zabuli Education Center. This school provides free education for girls in the village of Deh'Sabz which is right outside of Kabul. The school provides education for more than 300 girls who would not otherwise get an education. Some of these girls walk 45 minutes each way to get to school.
Several hours and two hundred and some dollars later I had joined and won the silent auction for a necklace and earring set entitled "Kissing Rainbows" from Herat which, according to the sign, was "an exquisite silver-wear comprising of a sun-shaped necklace and earrings that hang like an upside down rainbow. From Herat, this refined adornment is a gentle addition to an evening wear."
We all left hundreds of dollars lighter, but having had great food, shopping, conversation, and an interesting fashion show. The excitement and several pots of tea worked perfectly and I left thrilled to have met Razia and some of the girls from the school. I also had a personal ray of hope shine through in that I have been looking for projects to volunteer with while in Kabul and this might be one of them...