Peace, Love and Chai - A National Tour to Promote Coexistence in USA

4:43 PM

Two months ago, I sat in a sunny courtyard with the beautiful Sughar women in a small village outside of Hyderabad, Pakistan. As sun kissed their beautiful dark skin, Kareeman a 44 year-old mother looked up at me with squinting eyes and asked, "Adi (sister) is it true that this man they are showing on the TV will be the new leader?" I was shocked and then quickly disoriented. This was a new normal for me these days, having been married to my beloved David/Dawood for two years and jumping between our worlds (America and Pakistan) every two months. I had learned to ignore the fact that one day I would be sitting in a place called In-N-Out Burger and the next I would be sitting on the soothing dirt floor of verandas where fresh cow dung patties sparkled in the sun as they waited to be dried to be used as fuel for the next chai. "Of course not!" I said to the women with confidence bringing myself back from the sudden thought of what was happening back in the U.S. right then. "Let me tell you all," I continued, "no one at all believes in that man. You will see."
Balochistani style seating, Sindhi embroidery, truck art, and colors that satisfy the soul in The Chai Spot
One year ago when my husband and I relaunched Sughar Nomads, a fashion brand we had launched under Sughar Empowerment Society in Pakistan, into The Chai Spot at Tlaquepaque it became a great success! We created a little piece of colorful Pakistan in Sedona, AZ decorated with products made by women. It was a small way to pay big, back into their homes. Women received good wages for the products they made, and their children got to go to school from the 50% of profits that we give back to the communities. This new “partnership" they had with America was an exciting one for everyone. Everytime I walked into a small hut in the villages we worked in they would ask me how "Amreeka" is and who likes their products. Having to think that a man full of hatred would be able to stop their new found interesting livelihood was a fear for all of them, but not for me. I knew Americans were bigger than that.
Until that day when my chest filled with excitement, my heart throbbing I convinced my mother to join me in returning back to U.S.A. so she could experience an era of women’s strength and leadership with Hillary’s win. To make this experience more astonishing for her, I had decided to fly back on the exact day of the elections. But it was in mid air, when the small screens of our personal TV's showed us something that felt both surreal and shocking--Donald Trump's acceptance speech. With my heart sinking, I quickly looked over at my mother and was grateful she had fallen asleep as my eyes flooded with tears thinking back to that moment with my women when after I had reassured them, bright smiles had lingered on their faces for the rest of the day.
This began a new time, a time of uncertainties and sadly of many fears. Like many of us, my heart and mind started worrying about the state of the world, the bridges that we had with so much struggle been able to create between our countries and our cultures, were now at the risk of destruction, the closeness people felt between each other despite thousands of miles apart was now going to grow bigger, when a surprising thing came to my attention that I had not expected. It was through my mother’s eyes that I first started to notice it and then witness it for real. The divisions weren’t country to country as the new president took charge, the divisions were now between families, friends, neighbors, communities and once tightly knit networks. Brothers and sisters that had once played together were now either not speaking or having heated debates hurling insults at each other. Parents weren’t hearing from their children because of this new division, a level of misunderstanding between each other not seen in any of our lifetime’s was becoming true. Diversity between American nationals was becoming a dangerous and dirty concept.
What was I going to say to those women back home in Pakistan? How will I explain all this? The moment they are sending their handmade pillow or bag to the U.S., their eyes beaming with the significance of that ritual, the importance of their presence in this whole cyle of giving and creating friendships. But now, things weren’t the same for them anymore, things weren’t same for women in America. Even American women had to stand up for their rights in this country now.
Women in Sughar center sewing the embroidered pillow together
David and I decided that we have to do something. Amidst all of this fear and misunderstanding, the only solution was bringing people together. We had to create a safe place where people can have difficult conversations, talk about things that make them angry and afraid and find common ground. We had proven a space like that with The Chai Spot, with a magical experience for people through Pakistani hospitality, decor, chai tea, and handmade products by women. Except this time instead of people coming to us, we decided we wanted to take the experience to them and start these conversations ourselves.













And hence in January, combining my two loves, Sughar Foundation and The Chai Spot, we launched the Peace, Love and Chai - A National Tour to Promote Coexistence, a campaign where we will take the same experience of The Chai Spot to small towns, religious and social gatherings, educational institutions and more. Starting this February we are hitting the road for a whole year with a trailer painted in the style of famous Pakistani truck art to make chai on the road, giving handmade gifts of women in Pakistan, live in our small truck, and talk to people and find out what their truth is. We dream of strengthening bridges and creating new ones. And all of that starts with having the conversations instead of avoiding them.
An example of truck art
On this journey of love, we want to you to join us. Either join our small caravan in your city or town, host us for a community conversation, talk about us online, or donate to make this mission a possibility! https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/...
Keep following our page Peace, Love and Chai - A National Tour to Promote Coexistence for the full map of where we will be, the updates and stories of real humans with real love, and for more ways you can join us!
With Gratitude, Blessings and Love,
Khalida Brohi

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4 comments

  1. I really like the name, peace love nd chai. Loved the blog, I am also from Pakistan but not much aware of these things. Thank you for sharing it with us

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  2. You want to write something about Pakistan? You cannot take out Chai from it. Good to see that you people are working for local businesses

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  3. Great blog post and really helpful and very interesting midnightinfo

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  4. Thanks for sharing the story and the journey you had with your life partner, the title is really good and I liked it very much.

    ReplyDelete

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