Meet Haji Ibrahim and Haji Ghaffar. These two came strolling into our offices with big bellied laughs. They’re brothers from the Ghuryan District, and they looked very fine in their Afghan Shalwar Kameez and leather jacket and Western coat. The turban denotes great responsibility. Only elders who wear the turban are entrusted with making wise decisions for their families and communities.
Ibrahim and Ghafar have been farmers with Rumi Spice since last year. After handing them a wad of cash for payment for their saffron flowers, Shakoor sat us down over tea, and I gave them the WBEZ mugs. When we took a video, their countenances immediately switched to somber, which I guess translates to stateliness. Haji Ibrahim spent the entire interview looking off into the distance with disdain, rubbing his feet. As soon as it’s off, they’re back to joking and gesticulating loudly. I mean, look at this guy cheezin’!
I did get them to take a selfie with me, though, and I’m glad they smiled. #afghanfarmerselfie
The important stuff: they told me they were happy in the partnership with Rumi Spice and wanted to continue to next year. They asked me for a promise to include them into the expansion opportunities as we grow. They would help us if we helped them. They’d honor us if we honored them.
Then came the photoshoot in the courtyard. If you don’t already know, Melanie is a pretty serious photographer. She’s done portrait shots for Donald Trump and Oscar de la Renta as well as covers for Vogue and Time Magazine. Here she is graciously taking photography direction from Shakoor, who was directing her shots and suggesting poses. Our two jolly brothers were laughing at themselves smelling the flowers at Melanie’s suggestion, and Ibrahim started to pose and purposely drop flowers into the bucket.
“Yes!” Melanie said, camera clicking. “Yes! That’s it!”
Afterwards, Melanie told me Ibrahim was a natural model. The whole morning was fun and lighthearted. We spent the rest of the day picking stigmas and doing written interviews with our women. I heard stories that made my heart break and others that gave me courage.
I’m thrilled to be here. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be. I have so much on my mind and my heart.