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Photo Essay: The Afghan Seamstress Sewing Beautiful Garments in Her New Community

Meet Samira

On a cold day in the middle of Illinois winter, the home of Samira* and her family has vibrant colors. Though the family only arrived in the U.S. a few months before, they have been busy. And much of what Samira has done is create. This photo essay showcases the beautiful garments that Samira makes.

In Afghanistan

In her home community in Afghanistan, Samira* was a gifted seamstress. With her skills in sewing and crocheting, she crafted gorgeous wedding gowns, dresses, and other apparel.

The days of making wedding dresses for friends and relatives in her hometown in Afghanistan are long gone. Today, they are documented only through a few photo prints.

On the Journey

Samira carried those photos with her when the family Afghanistan. They came with her to the U.S. military base where her family awaited resettlement. And now, in their new home in the suburbs of Chicago, Samira looks at her photos as mementos of a life left behind.

But even on their family’s journey, Samira found ways to use her talent and scarce resources to meet her family’s needs. She transformed a bedsheet into a dress for her daughter. She made yarn by hand from spare materials.

In a New Community

When World Relief Chicagoland welcomed Samira and her family to Illinois, staff learned of Samira’s skill as a seamstress. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, she gained a sewing machine, fabric, thread, and other sewing tools. Now, she uses her skills to create a home and support her family in the United States.

The next time World Relief Chicagoland staff saw her, Samira and her daughters were wearing brand-new dresses sewn just that week!

In her home, during cold Chicago winter, Samira crochets scarves, gloves, and hats. She and her daughters sew dresses. And while Samira left so much behind, now she creates beauty in her new community.

Images in this photo essay by Roxanne Engstrom of Hawa Images.

Read More

World Relief Chicagoland’s 2021 Year in Review is an annual report that features Samira’s story along with other stories of hope.

Click here to read the Year in Review.

As you read, we hope that reflecting on the year behind us inspires you. And that it reminds you of the power of creating welcoming community together.

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