Over the past five years, I have been privileged to be welcomed into the homes of many Afghans, first as a guest, and then as a friend. In this beautiful country, I've shared laughter and connection over cups of tea. I've also heard vulnerable stories of the deepest atrocities that should not exist in our world. And over those same cups of tea, I have watched my friends live out the daily reality of courage and resilience, holding on to hope for their communities.
So why is our campaign called tea for the brave?
It’s because tea is more than just a drink. Tahmina is a female Persian name derived from the word tahm, which means strong or brave. We stand for a vision to export transformational products from different conflict regions of the world. We believe that economic development is one of the sustainable agents of change to war-torn societies, and that the call to bravery will overcome the history of fear in these nations. What could Afghanistan and other conflict areas across the globe look like if we refused to believe that the situations around us were hopeless or unchangeable? What if we were determined to be brave even when the odds were stacked against us?
Who are the brave ones?
For those who have read the stories that we’ve shared these past three years, the first answer that comes to mind will be the Afghan people. They’ve endured generations of uncertainty with grace and resilience, and I’ve seen the strength of their community day in and day out. I couldn’t be more grateful to have the chance to learn from the Afghan people and share life with them. But there’s a second group that we call “the brave ones,” and that’s you. Wherever you sit reading this now, perhaps not in an active war zone, you still have your own fears and doubts that you choose to overcome every day. You’ve lived through one of the toughest years our world has ever seen- including a turbulent election season, persistent racial injustice, and a global pandemic. Yet, you hold onto your highest hopes and dreams for yourself and your family that you work closer towards every day. You have a vision of a better world that you contribute to.
Though we continue to live in divisive times, it’s important to remember that there is more that we have in common than different. Pandemics do not discriminate. Depression does not discriminate. Addiction does not discriminate. Some of us, no matter where we live in the world, battle the same demons. So if you asked me, “who are the brave ones?”, I would say,“WE are the brave ones.” Courage and the potential for a brighter future live inside each and every one of us, and perhaps if we were able to see those who we normally considered “the other,” that visibility could produce empathy and we could be inspired to press onward and persevere.
Tea for the brave is about being a bridge. It connects the saffron farmers and women of Afghanistan with the tea drinkers of America. This tea not only stands for those who have been oppressed by conflict and poverty, but it’s also for those who have been oppressed by mental illness and unemployment. It’s for those in the third world and those in the first world. No matter how different (or sometimes similar) our battles look across the world, it is the same bravery to overcome that lives inside all of us. Tea for the brave is about having the courage to look past the labels and stereotypes, and find a deeper connection with those in our local and global communities.
It’s been a hard year for all of us. You might not have heard this recently, so I want to tell you: you are brave. This tea is for you. This tea is for us. This is tea for the brave.