Shahla is unique to Bpeace–she is not only the youngest Fast Runner but also the first cross-generational Fast Runner. Shahla’s mother, Fatima, is just completing her three-year Bpeace program. Fatima runs a furniture manufacturing company employing 80 women she trained as carpenters. Clearly Shahla was raised seeing how women can accomplish anything.
There are few non-imported shoes in Afghanistan, making Shahla’s shoes a hot commodity in Kabul among the “Be Afghan, buy Afghan” locals. The 26 employees in her factory hand-make 20 shoes a day using one pedal-operated sewing machine and re-purposing used vehicle tires for the soles. The craftsmanship of her shoes astounded the employees of P.W. Minor, one of her host companies, who now proudly display a pair of Shahla’s shoes in their own factory to inspire employees.
Shahla truly touched everyone she met while in the U.S. during the Bpeace Apprentice Road Trip (BART) and created buzz in the press too. Glamour magazine blogged that Shahla is, “challenging stereotypes, breaking barriers, and creating unparalleled independence for herself…” You can read the full post here: http://bit.ly/9qcGFH. To learn more about Shahla’s experience at P.W. Minor, you can read this article in The Batavian: http://bit.ly/cGHXPi. The Syracuse Post Standard describes Shahla’s experience at Aurora Shoes: http://bit.ly/9Bv14S. In this article in The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Shahla’s experience at both host companies is detailed bit.ly/brSrhT.
Currently, Shala is producing men’s shoes, and women’s flats. Shahla also plans to add a line of high heels to her collection, something she says that, “all the young women in Afghanistan will love to wear!” Shahla spent the day with shoe designer Heather Williams, and together they designed two spectacular shoes using Heather’s silhouettes, trimmed with Afghan coins and medallions. Shahla plans to create these shoes when she gets back to Afghanistan.
You can listen to Shahla describe her inspirations and new goals at Bpeace’s annual meeting: http://ustre.am/_IBV2:vJh
BART is partially funded by the U.S. Department of State, Office of Citizen Exchanges in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.