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Tue - 14 Sep 2021

Afghan Artisan Website Ishkar Launches Photo Fundraiser

Once a stop on the historic Silk Road, Afghanistan’s rich artisan culture has been disrupted yet again by war and political unrest.

In 2016, before the Taliban re-invasion, hope for the nation’s artisans – from its glassblowers to its jewellery makers was rising, with the help of Ishkar, a stylish e-commerce website started by two young London-based entrepreneurs, Edmund Le Brun and Flore de Taisne, (a former NGO worker and UN and World Bank employee respectively). Today, the artisan’s bios and pages have been taken down to protect their identities from the Taliban. Most of them are in hiding, the organization says.

“This is a very uncertain and frightening time for everyone. There are a lot of unknowns. Most [artisans] are staying at home and waiting to see how the Taliban will govern and perceive female artisans,” Ishkar said in a statement.

Hesitant to comment on a way forward, the Ishkar team is currently focused on its fundraising efforts.

Award-winning photographers have contributed prints from their archive for a time-limited sale on ISHKAR. All profits from the print sale will go to EMERGENCY centres in Afghanistan. Donations will fund specialist training of local nurses & doctors who will go on to treat thousands of patients in need across the country.

The roster of photographers includes the likes of Steve McCurry, who shot the famous portrait of the green-eyed Afghan refugee girl in the red shawl, 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner Lorenzo Tugnoli, Michael Christopher Brown, who is famous for his Libya coverage and Rena Effendi who is famous for her images of youngsters in Cairo and Kabul. The fundraiser will close on the 15th of September.

Le Brun who once lived on the Afghan border with China at only 18 years old, began collaborating with local NGOs Turquoise Mountain and Arzu to sell Afghan products in order to support educational initiatives and local clinics. Over the past five years, Ishkar has achieved a lot, including fashionable collaborations with British jewellery designer Pippa Small and the sale of carpets designed by Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid, made possible with the help of Arzu. Today, the future is all about supporting the causes that inspired them to start Ishkar in the first place.

“Despite this uncertainty, we are sure of one thing: EMERGENCY hospitals will continue to provide free critical non-partisan care to those in need. They’re currently overwhelmed, especially in the light of the recent bomb blasts at Kabul airport which has seen them receive a massive influx of patients. Your support will go a long way. Beyond a financial contribution, your purchase is an important mark of solidarity with Afghanistan during these frightening days.”

You can shop the collection of photographs and join the cause by clicking on EMERGENCY PRINT FUNDRAISER.