Kelly L. Spangler is an American teacher, mother, world traveler and admirer of the different languages, cultures, and traditions of the world. Kelly first traveled to Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan to teach at the American University of Iraq (AUIS) in 2009. She instantly felt all of the hope and optimism in the hearts and minds of the Kurdish people. She witnessed one of the most momentous events in Kurdish history, the first democratic elections on July 25, 2009.
Kurdistan finally seemed to be developing into a society that was ready to become a sovereign nation. This could not have been further from the truth. When IS invaded in 2014, Kelly saw the steady flood of refugees and internally displaced people, and the Kurdish army was forced yet again to fight another war, and the economy was steadily in decline. She felt so disheartened and wanted to find a way to help.
When Kelly met her husband, Parosh Hawaii, in 2015 in Sulaymaniyah, they quickly became inseparable and a productive relationship started because of their shared passion for helping others. They were determined to find a way to help Kurdistan. They got married in 2016 in Pensacola, Florida and then moved to New Orleans and Lüfka LLC was born.
Parosh Hawaii is a Kurdish-British businessman and world traveler who has always had a passion to help his native society of Kurdistan. He moved to London, England from Sulaymaniyah when he was 17 years old to pursue his Business Administration degree from London South Bank University. Parosh currently lives with his wife and son in the beautiful city of New Orleans, LA. He is passionate about finding ways to preserve the ancient culture and heritage of Kurdistan by sharing ancient handmade Kurdish products with the world.
Parosh and the other founders of Lüfka initially wanted to open a charity to help low-income people in Kurdistan as well as refugees who have been displaced by the conflict in Syria, but they quickly realized that charitable assistance is not sustainable over the long-term. It is like the saying goes, “Give people a fish, and they will eat for a day. Teach people how to fish, and they will eat for the rest of their lives.”
The team wants to encourage sustainable development by creating a company that could employ as many artisans as possible in the Kurdistan Region of Northern Iraq. Lüfka artisans live and earn an income by preserving an ancient art form of weaving Babylonian willow bark fibers and creating a product that has not changed since 5,000 BC
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The name Mesopotamia was given to the Middle Eastern civilization that was situated between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The word, Mesopotamia comes from the Greek meaning "a land between two rivers". The first city-states were established in Southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) as early as 5,000 BCE by the Sumerian people. This region is typically dry and sandy which made communal bathhouses or hammams a vital part of the health, well being, and culture of the Sumerian people. Lüfkas were first created during the Sumerian period (5,000-3,500 BCE).
Farmers would trim the branches of the Babylonian weeping willow trees that grew in the oases of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and hung them to dry in the hot Mesopotamian sun. Weavers would strip the willow branches into thin fibers. These fibers were then placed in a loom and woven back and forth to produce the same beautiful diamond shaped lüfkas that people in this region still use today.
Our artisans use this same ancient technique to produce our Lüfka Willow Bark Exfoliating Washcloths. People have known about the benefits of skin exfoliation for centuries. We want to share this ancient Eastern knowledge with the world.