From the Field: Building a Boutique

By Faith Garland

Last summer, in my role as the coordinator for the Beloved Initiative, a Send Relief colleague and I had the opportunity to connect with an Afghan refugee family over dinner.

In one of our very first meetings together to establish a friendship with the family, Farkhia prepared homemade naan, rice and chicken. During one of these initial visits around her dining room table, I learned that she had sewn the beautiful curtains that decorated their apartment—the apartment that Send Relief is generously funding for a year. Because Farkhia does not speak English yet, except for a few kind phrases, her husband, Jon, translated. I let her know that I would be interested in helping provide her with more materials so that she could sew. While some languages take time to learn, sewing was and is a language we could easily connect through.

After bringing the curtain idea to my team’s attention, we all dreamed up the idea of helping her start her own business by providing her with more materials. This was an opportunity for us to give back to a family that has had so much stripped from them.

The idea for a micro business was also birthed out of the thought that many women are stay-at-home moms. Typically, refugee women don’t have access to jobs like the locals who speak English fluently. Starting with something creative made the most sense.

The test launch of the project began by gifting her with a large bolt of sheer organza fabric that was donated through a local church. For materials to set up shop, she was given a sewing machine by another partnering church, and Send Relief gave her an extra machine so that she and her daughter could sew together. She could not stop talking about how much she loves her new equipment! Additional supplies were gifted during one of our later meetings, including tiny snip scissors, fabric scissors, thread and seam rippers—which every good seamstress needs to deconstruct and reconstruct their project.

I returned to visit their family for lunch and, in a matter of weeks, she had sewn 25 beautiful sheer curtains that would make any apartment feel like a cozy home. I think making a home a home, even with curtains, echoes our desire for our eternal home in heaven. This family long desired to have a home, after spending time displaced in a refugee base in Qatar. I long for them to fully welcome Jesus into their hearts!

In my visits with the family, we have had countless faith-filled conversations, especially during the Ramadan season. Farkhia’s father asked questions about Christianity and why we celebrate Christmas and the Easter season and has been open to hearing what those meaningful celebrations mean. I am thankful for their spiritual openness to these conversations and continually pray that they would have a realization of Christ’s love for them.

Farkhia’s first sale was to a new newlywed couple decorating their first apartment. We have had loads of fun selecting additional materials at craft stores and going on adventures to local family-owned shops in Boston. Since Farkhia rarely leaves her house and her family doesn’t own a car, this adventure was a gift of pure delight and freedom for her. I will forever treasure her smile in my heart when she chose what fabrics she wanted to order online and having her husband translate to her “You are the designer. You get to choose which fabrics!” Choices are so empowering for women who have been through so much.

If you would like to support this precious woman, Farkhia’s Boutique is on Etsy! She will have a wonderful and diverse range of curtains, fun floral prints and simple elegant sheers to cozy up your home. Your support of this microbusiness in partnership with the Boston ministry center and this Afghan refugee family means so much and will have a lasting kingdom impact for generations to come!

Published October 18, 2023

Faith Garland

Faith Garland serves at the Boston Send Relief ministry center.