On September 11, you may have seen us introduce you to Christine Smith, a Traverse City native who was living in New York City on 911.
Three months after surviving the attacks, Christine packed up her belongings, quit her corporate career on Wall Street, and moved back to the Midwest to live a totally different life.
After losing 45 friends, co-workers and neighbors in the attacks, Christine is now working towards making a difference every single day.
“When I came home, to recover, I made a promise to myself and the people that I lost that I was going to make something beautiful out of this,” Christine said. “And (to) make my life mean something. That’s the reason I walked away from my life that day.”
Christine lived in Brooklyn Heights. She had been living and working there for 8 years, moving there in 1993, when she was 23 years old.
“I was a karate instructor, worked on Wall Street, and an actress, as well.”
Just three days after the Twin Towers finally stopped burning, which wasn’t until December 2001, Christine packed her bags and moved back to the Midwest.
“I can’t believe it’s been 20 years. “Thank God it’s 20 years. But at the same time… you never forget,” she said.
Now, 20 years later, Christine lives in Washington D.C. while working with the federal government. She also runs her organization, Khazana, which means treasure in seven different languages.
“I came into federal government partially because it’s a way to affect systemic change,” Christine said. “Instead of reactive, it’s proactive.”
Christine was living in Pakistan in 2013-2014, working for the government, when she thought of the vision behind her organization.
”I had fallen in love with the art of the women in Pakistan,” she said. “The beautiful rugs, the scarfs… all of the different textiles. And then of course, the paintings and such… the antiques.”
She gained attention from friends and family on Facebook after posting pictures of the Pakistani art. She eventually began selling the art pieces, giving 100% of the profit back to the woman of Pakistan.
”If you take care of them, they’re really amazing pieces of art. Also, conversation pieces. I know the stories of where they came from, what the tribes are that made them, the stories about how they came in my hands, and also the region where they’re from,” she added.
Her organization has a very simple goal.
”The main mission is empower women, save the world,” Christine said. “That’s our main mission. It’s as simple as it gets.”
Most recently, Christine published a cook book, filled with Pakistan recipes and the stories behind the women who cook them.
”One of the things I wanted to do through this cookbook, was not only share the recipes, but tell the stories of what I experienced with the Afghan and Pakistani people,” she said.