Just don’t call me Captain Ahab

I love being involved in IBOL.  I really do.

Yesterday morning, in the skies over Afghanistan, someone pushed a rig out of a perfectly good airplane, and used an airborne delivery to put some IBOL / ABOL bundles on the ground in a remote part of Afghanistan.

Just think about that one for a second.  A guy in Baghdad, on a website in America, working with volunteers from all over the place (and not just in America), sending sewing, knitting and quilting supplies to an air base in Afghanistan, to be loaded onto and dropped out of an airplane.

Pretty darn-tootin’ cool, if you ask me.  It’d be better only if they let me jump in, too.

And if yesterday wasn’t awesome enough, I closed out my day with almost an hour on the phone with Jan, one half (the better half?) behind the Lamia Afghan Foundation.  What in the world would we have to talk about?  Wow, what didn’t we talk about — logistics, contracts, tax status, vendors, 4×4 trucks, etc.  But at the root of it all?  My quest for sewing machines.

See, I’m stuck on a problem.  The CST and the FET’s are a great match for IBOL/ABOL, as I see it.  But sewing machines are always an issue — cost, availability, and (yes!) electricity.  I can’t do money, I can’t make electricity, but maybe I can work availability.

So, we’re talking.  I am interested in a solution more than I am in it being my solution.  I am worried about finding a way to get it done, than I am about who does it.  I know we can figure something out — it just takes some more head scratching, maybe some emails, maybe a phone call or two — and, I’m sure, some napkins on which to doodle and sketch.

So, yeah — sewing machines.  Manual, nonelectric sewing machines, like the Janone 712T or something.  Something local in Afghanistan is best — with service and parts and all that being right there, local.

More to follow.  Email me if you have ideas — I’m open to everything.  I’m stalking this like it’s a white whale and whale hunting wasn’t seen as a bad thing like i actually is.  Wow — I just realized that Moby Dick is entirely wrong, in our society today.  Bummer.


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10 Responses to “Just don’t call me Captain Ahab”

  1. Mary ann Says:

    You make laugh…and then I go off to pull from my stash again. Tomorrow is Saturday, I’ve got boxes to get off again. BTW sign my up for the next SSP!

  2. Ellen Chatterjee Says:

    How about treadle machines? Surely as places like India modernize, the village tailors are moving to electric models and parting with the old ones. Sorry, I have no idea how to access that market.

  3. Susan Funderberg Says:

    Love reading your updates. Just letting you know that earlier this week several SSP5 boxes left middle-of-nowhere USA heading to those wonderful children. As for your brainstorm, have you considered Amish resources? One company I’ve purchased from is Lehman’s. ( http://www.lehmans.com/store/Home_Goods___Sewing_and_Quilting___Treadle_Sewing_Machine_with_Oak_Cabinet___29003950#29003950 )
    I’ll keep thinking of any other resources and get back to you if anything grabs me.

  4. Jane Says:

    Interesting post…Several weeks ago I was searching the internet for just such items. I thought the sewing machines would be a great addition to the project! Especially with the classes and female interaction going on. Keep me posted. Hopefully there will be something I can help with for this part of your good works.

  5. skla Says:

    I’d contribute to a sewing machine drive, i.e., financial donations towards buying treadle machines. Janome treadles seemed inexpensive until factoring in the cost of the base cabinet/which is sold separately.

    Maybe someone in the Amish community could help with more info on other sources. Anyone here who has friends/contacts in the Amish communities? Actually, you might find used sources also. Unfortunately, no Amish communities nearby.

  6. skla Says:


    Seems to be a Necchi. Maybe you’ve seen this. Not inexpensive. Machine made in Taiwan and cabinet in US. Don’t know much about Lehmans. But I’m thinking Amish sewists/quilters might have their own sources/recommendations of treadle machines maybe not as well known.

  7. IBOL Guy Says:

    One of the tricks with the machines, I think, is sustainment. having an awesome machine from the States would be awesome — until you need a replacement part. And in a year, in 5 years, when there’s less or little or no US presence, that’s an issue. But locally procured ones would be a different story. Or, ones procured that match what is available and sustainable there — that works, too.

  8. DrMauri Says:

    Butterfly sewing machines – made in China, – I have seen them for sale new in Saudi Arabia and they come in a hand-crank model. They sew straight, forward and back – and look like something out of the 20s or 30s. They have been around for a while, because I have seen them in folk museums in central Saudi.

    See them at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIaCN7JKQgM and put “Butterfly Sewing Machine” in Google for a ton of results.

  9. suzi1230 Says:

    Seems like the issue is how to navigate the legal landmines and put some sewing-machine-designated funding into the hands of responsible people who can procure the machines locally. And, yes, I would contribute.

    Another issue is whether to donate the machines as American woman-to-woman good will– or to help set up an Afghan-woman run co-op with long-term loans to buy the machines. Money paid back then allows purchase of more machines. That model has worked in other developing countries.

  10. DrMauri Says:

    Is there a micro-loan organization, like http://www.kiva.org, already set up and cleared to do business in Afghanistan? IF the recipients of ABOL packages could be hooked up with that organization and receive loans to buy their own sewing machines, I would gladly donate to the seed money for a perpetual “ABOL Sewing Machines” loan fund 🙂

    Butterfly sewing machines are already in Afghanistan – see:
    http://www.sfsu.edu/~sfsumag/archive/fall_10/afghanistan2.html – the picture is labeled “Long Stitch”

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