Feeling optimistic at the Hope Workshop in Amman
This report rounds off AP’s support for an important and innovative project to empower women refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East. The project was made possible with your help. We want to thank you and bring you up to date on recent developments.
Recap and history: First a reminder of how it began. In 2016, we launched an appeal on Global Giving on behalf of the Hope Workshop, an association of refugees that was started by our partner in Jordan, the Collateral Repair Project. The appeal raised $500 from 14 donors, including yourself, and made it possible for our Peace Fellow, Allyson, to start embroidery training for 12 refugees. The women told their stories through embroidered squares, which were brought back to the US and assembled into advocacy quilts.
The following year we launched a second appeal for the embroidery project, which raised $7,556 from another 36 generous donors. By the end of 2018, the embroidery training had been fully absorbed into CRP’s program. It was clear that our investment had exceeded expectations and with CRP's agreement we suspended our support.
We are proud of what we have achieved with your donations. By focusing on fundraising and embroidery, our three Peace Fellows (Allyson, Reina and Theresa), have produced results that we might have hoped for back in 2016, but frankly did not expect:
Telling the story of refugees: Embroidery has enabled the Hope refugees to describe not just their own ordeal but the sort of terror and uncertainty that faces refugees everywhere. We show one square below, made by Jenan, who lived in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul. It shows the family house being attacked by ISIS fighters. The artists began to produce more gentle images in 2017, with the aim of selling their embroidery (last photo). But their earlier depictions of violence continue to make a powerful impression, made more poignant by the exquisite needlework.
Empowered refugees: Your donations have helped over 60 refugees to survive the rigors of exile and regain their confidence. This said, there can be no sugar-coating the fact that the refugee's life will be one of uncertainty until a permanent solution is found. As Jenan told AP: “We weren’t at ease there (in Iraq) and we’re not at ease here.” But she and the others are now better prepared for what lies ahead after the Hope Workshop. CRP has described the impact on the women on its website.
International support: The embroidery project has energized CRP’s partners and attracted more support for the Workshop. In 2018 we teamed up with the Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas (FAWCO) to show the first refugee quilt in Europe, the US and Jordan. FAWCO members also made two new quilts from squares, which were sold for $4,960. We celebrated their success in a news bulletin.
Educated students: The refugee quilts have been viewed by hundreds of students at universities in the US and inspired discussion at a time of growing xenophobia towards migrants and refugees.
Expanded training: CRP expanded training at the workshop from embroidery and by the end of 2018 your donations were helping to train 56 women in sewing, knitting and handicrafts (including calendars). Their products can be viewed on the Hope Workshop Facebook page and they include beautiful embroidered henna bags (photo below). Almost everything is sold in Amman. Woven gnomes are particularly popular.
Scale and sustainability: Perhaps the most encouraging outcome from this project has been the Hope Workshop’s evolution to a motivated association that is generating a serious income for its members. Your donations made it possible for CRP to hire a full-time manager and open a space for the Workshop. As training becomes more professional, this process will surely continue and leaders will emerge. With sales booming, it is even possible to dream of self-sufficiency.
Reconciliation: Finally, this program enables refugees to become self-sufficient and earn money without threatening the livelihood of Jordanians - a fear that often exists in countries of first asylum.
These are impressive results in just three years!
The AP team
Why refugees flee: Jenan's house burns in Mosul
Hard at work at the Hope Workshop, Amman
The Third Refugee Quilt on display in Germany
Made and sold in Jordan - one of the Hope bags
The refugee's dream - reunite with her family