Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Published March 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours
When the Taliban rode into Kabul in 1996 it wasn't as if they were seizing control of city where peace reigned and people went about their business without worry. Afghanistan had been a country in turmoil since the monarchy was overthrown in 1973. Within a year of a 1978 military coup, the U.S.S.R had moved into the country in force. Ten years later, the U.S.-supported Mujahideen toppled the Soviets but the void left behind led to years of civil war. Still, nothing could have prepared the residents of Kabul for the changes to their world the Taliban immediately began making.
When both Woja, his wife and their oldest son were forced to flee Kabul, their daughters were left to fend for themselves. It didn't take long for then teenaged Kamila to realize that their money would not last long without a bread earner in the house and she was certain that she was not the kind of person who could just sit in the house day after day. One day she struck upon the idea of becoming a seamstress, a job she could do at home. Enlisting her oldest sister to teach her to sew, and her young brother to accompany her to the market to sell her goods, Kamila was soon making enough money to support her family but it wasn't enough of her. Quickly Kamila found ways to help other women support their own families, first through hiring them to help her family, then by starting a sewing school and eventually working with the UN to reach even more women.
In 2005, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, who was then a journalist, went in search of stories about women who not only survived war-torn countries but flourished as business women who not only supported their own families but whose work helped to rebuild their countries. Kamila Sidiqi's story was just the thing she was looking for and over the next few years, Lemmon became a part of the Sidiqi family as she explored the story of Kamila's commitment to her fellow woman.
To learn more about Gayle Lemmon, Kamila Sidiqi and groups that are working to help women world wide, visit Lemmon's website. For other opinions about the book, check out the full list of tour sites at TLC Book Tours.