Bring Hope Sewing Initiative
Sewing Hope is an initiative that began as a way of providing a place for the women within the camps to come together and use their time away from the difficulties they face learning a new skill. It is a chance for them to channel their energy into creating something beautiful from the skill of sewing.
As something that started out as a hobby, it is incredible to see the growth and development of this programme into what now can only be described as an absolute passion project, driven by the ladies in the camp.
Sewing is a gift which when learned fosters teamwork, mutual cooperation and most importantly gives women and children, who have traditionally been a marginalized population, meaning and self-esteem. Author and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Isobel Coleman espoused her viewpoint, “We are experiencing an arc of history that will take a long time to play itself out. Overthrowing dictatorships is easy. Building something new in its place – creating – is the hard part.”
This sewing initiative is creating something new, while it may be difficult, it is also an essential part of re-establishing life for women, youth and even children who have nothing.
In her book, “Paradise Beneath Her Feet,” Ms. Coleman explores how activists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are working within the tenets of Islam to create economic, political and educational opportunities for women. This sewing initiative offers similar opportunities for this very same demographic in Iraqi Kurdistan refugee camps where even the smallest initiatives can have tremendous results. Women’s rights and equal treatment are their ticket to empowerment, this initiative is about freedom and economic opportunity as sewing clothes or other items are products, products which may be sold or bartered for articles that may be individually useful or needed.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his speech at the Herzliya Conference in 2012 praised young people and women for their role in sparking and fueling the region’s democratic reforms, he said, “Young people have been in the vanguard, as have women – standing for their rights against those who would deny them.
We should welcome this inevitable evolution of history.”While the women and youth who find themselves in refugee camps may not be among those women who are actively fighting for their rights, they are in the same group of individuals whose rights must be protected, who must be given options, who need help finding a way to a better life. The sewing initiative is just such a chance, an opportunity to be seized by women and youth who have no other choices, who want a better future, a way out.
The products that have been made completely by the ladies in the camp are of such great quality and utilize the local indigenous material called ‘Jajim’, making it impossible to find a bag or purse quite like this anywhere else. Having realized this, we want to ensure their efforts are appreciated by those interested in supporting these women for the local artisans that they are.
So far ’Sewing Hope’ is present in the Baharka camp in Kurdistan and continues to serve as a form of healing and therapy for the women involved. Our next step is to take the interest garnered from around the world to ensure 100% of the sales generated are given straight back to the ladies behind ‘Sewing Hope.’
Sewing and production are activities that are healthy. It creates healthier living and lifestyles. Engaging in sewing and empowering women to be self-sufficient in at least one area of life may result in less asylum seeking when they are engaged in activities that help bind them as a unit and as a people. These women will live more comfortable lives in the region they are most accustomed to and where they have long-standing ties both culturally and religiously. Lastly, these women and youth will remain steadfast in their belief the world and its people will help them remain independent, free and safe.
Sewing brings with it international development by providing global education and effecting positive social change. Sewing crosses geographic, ethnic and religious boundaries. The sewing initiative will provide a range of benefits to society, producing identifiable results in areas such as health, education, collaboration and community building. Importantly, this initiative brings joy to the refugees, which moves hearts and minds. It builds character and develops the mind and spirit of the individuals involved.
Sewing Hope is run by Paula Horsfall and Board of Director Nicholas Paillart. Together with the Bring Hope Humanitarian team, they are invested in ensuring the initiative is taken to several other camps and training workshops are managed on a continuous basis.
This program needs to receive more funding from the authorities, private sponsors, and other funding agencies to show the World that with dedication and happiness you can build, innovate and BRING HOPE. We can jointly make and change lives, regardless of race, religion and ethnic background, gender, and physical differences, eliminating tears and fears. We will make a difference using a known process and plan; through professionals with skills and setting the right pace to SUCCESS.