The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe

Book - 2011
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The incredible true account of Kamila Sidiqi who, when her father and brother were forced to flee Kabul, became the sole breadwinner for her five siblings. Armed only with grit and determination, she picked up a needle and thread and created a thriving business of her own and held her family together.
Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, c2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780061732379
Characteristics: xxvi, 256 p. ; 22 cm


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Sep 03, 2016

I loved reading this book because it is both informative and as readable as a novel. Because of the history given, I have a more accurate view of the people of Afghanistan and their history (government-wise). The book also allowed me to "feel" what it was like to live under Taliban rule, especially as a woman.

Jul 24, 2016

Lemmon shares an amazing account of the plight of women in Afghanistan after the Taliban took over Kabul.

Women were suddenly confined to their own homes, unable to return to school or leave their homes without an escort.

Kamila Sidiqi had just completed her university degree when she found herself responsible for her younger siblings. She immediately became an entrepreneur, beginning a dressmaking business out of her home with the help of her sisters. A younger brother acted as an escort whenever she traveled to the market to sell their wares.

She extended her knowledge to other women, inviting them into her home.

Eventually, she trained men
and women in Afghanistan on the essentials of beginning their own businesses and continues this practice today.

Nov 28, 2015

An inspiring true tale of a teenager in Afghanistan who created her own woman-run business during Taliban rule in the late 90s/early 00s. It is jarring to hear how these women-- with dreams and education much like you and I-- had to hole themselves up in their homes. Yet from claustrophobia and oppression comes a way to cheat the system!

Sep 08, 2015

Easy read that kept my attention but I agree that it left me w/ a desire for something more. Inspirational in that if women/people in general in a situation like this can succeed, how can we as US citizens
complain at all about our "challenges". It's the ole adage, turn lemons into lemonade.

Mar 14, 2015

Great book. As much for showcasing the ability of women to succeed in difficult circumstances. Kamila is an amazing young lady - a role model for many both here and in Afghanistan. To have to daily risk your life to help your family and to fed yourself, would have finished many. A great book and a must read for those who ever question the strength of women!

A patron review from the Adult Summer Game: "Very slow book. Very sad and heart-wrenching story but also very uplifting."

Jun 07, 2014

A story which provides insight to the horrors of war and life outside of the Western world. It will help bring an understanding that the need for survival, independence and the love of family is truely cross cultural.

monikasm Jun 26, 2013

This book offers an insightful glimpse into the lives of five sisters, living alone in Kabul with their young brother. Under the Taliban regime, they must remain fully veiled, are not allowed to work, and cannot step outside without being accompanied by a male relative. Not being allowed to earn an income is especially perilous: without money, starvation looms. The livelihoods (and therefore lives) of all women are put at risk by this Taliban decree, but especially at risk are widows and other lone women without male “providers.” The courage of the five sisters (and many others who join them in their venture), their determination, spirit, and independence shines through, as they form a dressmaking business — an act of defiance that runs the risk of flogging, imprisonment, or even death. Such stories of resilience and fortitude, of women making do under the harshest of conditions, are not to be forgotten. Also not to be forgotten is the tenacity and courage of the author, Gayle Tezmarch Lemmon. Gayle arrived in Kabul and, at daily risk of life by virtue of being a foreigner, an American, a journalist, and a woman, listened to the sisters’ story and brought their story to us. Also part of this inspiring story are the “silent” men of Kabul, those who enabled these enterprising women to survive, even prosper: first of all, their father who had educated each of his nine daughters (yup nine) alongside their two brothers; also their young brother, who never betrayed their trust ; and, last but not least, the various men who, in defiance of the Taliban decree, worked, bartered, and traded with the sisters, brought them business, and remained silent on their behalf, never giving them away to the Taliban. Inspiring and enlightening on many counts, this easy-to-read book offers a fascinating glimpse into the daily life and thoughts of a family of girls struggling to survive under a fanatical regime.

Jun 01, 2013

Great book, thought provoking.

Jan 27, 2013

What a wonderful book to come from such atrocities of the Taliban. The tenacity of these women under untenable conditions is amazing! I was so glad I listened to the CD instead of reading the book as I most likely would have mutilated the names.

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