A group of big-hearted Air Force captains aren't just serving others through military service; they are reaching new heights in helping others with a very important humanitarian initiative.
Capts. Josh Carroll, Joseph Stenger III, Jonathan Hudgins, and Ryan Bodenheimer have started a nonprofit, Flying Scarfs, to help disadvantaged Afghan widows sell their hand-made pashminas internationally, ABC reports.
Capt. Hudgins explains how through its website and parter retail stores in North Carolina. Flying Scarfs is helping improve the livelihood of these Afghan women, who live in a war-torn country where women's rights and safety are in unremitting jeopardy.
“All I’ve done is taken a village market and given it Internet power and our own friends and family helping," Hudgins told Air Force Times. "Now we’re selling worldwide. I think that can be done on so many more levels."
The Air Force captains decided to launch the organization after deploying to Afghanistan in 2011 and visiting the Bagram Air Field Bazaar where a group of women made and sold scarves. Within its first year, Flying Scarfs turned around $40,000 and distributed the profits back to the widows in Afghanistan, according to Air Force Times.
Capt. Carroll -- who told ABC that he joined the military to positively impact critical world issues -- feels that Afghanistan, Haiti, and Kenya, countries where Flying Scarfs is now active, would benefit from more initiatives that promote economic stability, entrepreneurship, and women's rights.
“In order to rebuild these communities, we’re going to have to empower people,” Carroll told ABC news in a recent interview. “And the people who don’t typically have access to capital, money and jobs are women.”
Recent research conducted by Goldman Sachs and the World Bank supports Carroll's observation about the importance of investing in women. Dina Powell, the president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, recently discussed the benefits of empowering women with the Huffington Post. During her interview, she emphasized a global responsibility to help educate and support underprivileged and underserved women.
“When women are economically independent, they have more political voice, their children are more educated, [and] health care improves in the community," she told HuffPost Live. "And so it’s really a multiplier effect and we’ve seen that.”
Powell helped organize the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative, which invests $100 million to educate disadvantaged women all over the world and help provide them with business careers.