Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan

by The Advocacy Project Vetted since 2015 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit
Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan
Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan
Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan
Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan
Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan
Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan
Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan
Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan
Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan
Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan
Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan
Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan
Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan
Train and Empower 50 Refugee Women in Jordan
Feeling optimistic at the Hope Workshop in Amman
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 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 36 generous donors, including yourself. 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 the project.

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!

Thank you!

The AP team

Why refugees flee: Jenan
Why refugees flee: Jenan's house burns in Mosul
Hard at work at the Hope Workshop, Amman
Hard at work at the Hope Workshop, Amman
The Third Refugee Quilt on display in Germany
The Third Refugee Quilt on display in Germany
Made and sold in Jordan - one of the Hope bags
Made and sold in Jordan - one of the Hope bags
The refugee
The refugee's dream - reunite with her family
Made by refugees in Jordan and assembled in the US
Made by refugees in Jordan and assembled in the US

We last reported to you in April about our project with refugees at the Collateral Repair Project (CRP) in Amman, which you have generously supported. This report brings the project up to date after a busy three months.

Commemoration through embroidery: Between 2016 and 2017, your donations enabled 27 refugee women to receive embroidery training at the Hope Workshop, which is supported by CRP, and tell their stories through embroidered squares. This has provided them with a therapeutic and social activity and given them a creative outlet for describing their difficult journey. The Hope refugees have made another 24 squares this summer, with help from our Peace Fellow Teresa in Amman.

Assembly and Exhibitions: Here in the US, several talented quilters have graciously assembled 46 embroidered squares from the Hope refugees into three advocacy quilts. We then use the quilts at events to explain what it means to be a refugee.

The first two refugee quilts have been widely shown. On June 27, World Refugee Day, the first quilt was exhibited in Houston,Texas, by the Houston Group of the Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas (FAUSA) at an event on refugees and trafficking. The quilt was again shown on July 12 by Therese, from FAUSA, at the Christ Church Cathedral in Houston. AP interns have shown the second quilt at several universities.

The third and latest quilt was assembled by Bobbi, from Quilters by the Sea, a large guild in Wilmington, North Carolina and exhibuited for the first time public at the guild on May 28. As Bobbi explained to her colleagues, she learned a lot about the refugees in Jordan from working on their squares.

Finding a market and generating an income: This year, we have been working hard to find a market for the Hope embroidery. And people are buying! On March 24, a wall hanging that was made from Hope Workshop embroidery sold for $1,500 at the annual gala of the Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas (FAWCO) in The Hague. Carol, who bought the hanging, immediately regifted it to FAWCO, to be auctioned off later this year in Washington. FAWCO and its sister organization FAUSA have also commissioned one of their members to produce a fine quilt (pictured in the top photo) which will also be auctioned at the Washington meeting. Profits will go to CRP.

The story of the four refugee quilts, and profiles of the artists, can be found on these pages.

Long-term sustainability: After three years of supporting the embroidery project, we are delighted that CRP is now taking steps to turn the Hope Workshop into a training center that will benefit many more refugee women in Amman. Your donations allowed CRP to start the process last summer, when they expanded training from embroidery to sewing, making handicrafts, and producing calendars. CRP recently hired a full-time manager, and the Workshop will move next month into a new space which will allow them to focus their efforts and expand their training.

CRP's ultimate goal is that the Hope Workshop will become a model training center where women refugees can learn new skills, produce new products and open up new markets for their handicrafts - all without threatening the livelihood of local Jordanians. This is the sort of challenge that faces all countries that give asylum to refugees. If Jordan can show the way in coming up with a new approach, your donations will indeed have made a huge difference.

In gratitude

The AP Team

The first quilt, on display in Amsterdam
The first quilt, on display in Amsterdam

Links:

Making embroidery at the Hope Workshop
Making embroidery at the Hope Workshop

We last reported back to you about our work with refugees at the Hope Workshop in Amman, Jordan, last November. Much has happened since then and we have made good use of your generous donation. Perhaps most important we have shown that investing in refugees can produce an amazing return. It’s good to be reminded of this at a time when so many people think of refugees as a threat.

First a recap. Since 2016 The Advocacy Project (AP) has supported the work of the Collateral Repair Project (CRP) in Amman. CRP provides emergency services for refugees from war in the Middle East and as part of this they offer training to women refugees through the Hope Workshop. In 2016, we deployed a Peace Fellow, Allyson, to help 12 ladies of Hope describe their experience as a refugee. A group of quilters in Rhode Island turned their embroidery into two fabulous quilts which are still being shown at exhibitions.

Last year, at CRP’s request, we launched this appeal on GlobalGiving to strengthen the Workshop. Reina, our wonderful 2017 Peace Fellow, led the appeal and with your help we were able to raise over $10,000. This has allowed CRP to transform the Workshop from a crafts center to something more resembling a women’s business. I want to explain the outlines and vision in this email.

Recovery: The Hope women have fled from some of the most violent wars on earth and CRP’s first goal has been to provide them with a welcoming environment. Being with other women who have shared a similar experience is key. Before she joined the Workshop Sena (not her real name) worried away the time alone at home. Now, she says, “the group gives me the emotional support I needed. I can see a big difference in myself.” Others feel empowered by earning some money and being able to contribute to the family budget.

Story Telling: Embroidery gives the Hope women a way to express themselves and be heard. In 2016 the artists produced 25 dramatic squares describing what they had lived through and their two quilts make a powerful statement about the horrors of war and the bravery of refugees.

Their quilts have made such an impact on audiences that we have asked CRP that all new members of the Workshop should have the same opportunity, and last year another 22 Hope members obliged with squares that leave nothing to the imagination (photo). Here is an extract from one of Reina’s profiles about the artists: “Sahar, from Homs, Syria fled because of the war. She says that they were happy living in their own house, but once the war came so did the planes and bombings and they were no longer safe. Sahar was pregnant with her daughter at the time. The day she went into labor, they started to bomb near their home. Sahar went to the hospital and gave birth. ‘The first day of my daughter’s life and they had started the attacks. It became impossible to stay,’ she says. They moved to a temporary house for 3 months but there was no running water or electricity and Sahar's husband decided they should leave. They went to Lebanon but were unable to stay there. Then, they came to Amman, Jordan.”

This terse account cannot begin to sum up the terror that Sahar and her family lived through, which is why the embroidery is so important. The squares are currently being assembled in North Caroline by a master quilter, Bobbi Fitzsimmons, and will be ready for exhibit by early May. We are confident it will pack a punch.

But not all of the Hope embroidery describes war and repression. Sahar and the others have also used embroidery to express their hopes for the future and these 22 squares are being managed by the Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas (FAWCO), which also supports the Hope Workshop. Barbara from FAWCO took six of the squares in Dusseldorf Germany, where they were made into a spectacular wall hanging to be auctioned at an event in the Hague. Kay in Michigan received the other 16 squares, which will be turned into a quilt and auctioned off in Washington in October. This is exciting for us here at AP. Not only will the voice of the Hope refugees now be heard in Europe, but the idea of advocacy quilting has caught on with a dedicated international network of women. This is a first!

Exhibitions: The first two refugee quilts have been shown over twenty times. They are particularly popular at universities, where they make a strong case for protecting and resettling refugees – a hard sell in this day and age. The first quilt was shown most recently at the University of Maryland on Good Friday and will appear next at Rutgers University in April. In Europe, Therese from FAWCO has been exhibiting the second quilt in the Hague and will soon take it back to Jordan, where she will show it the Hope artists and thank them in person. We will report back on their reaction.

Income generation: We are delighted to report that your donations now pay for four distinct activities at the Workshop – sewing, embroidery, calendars and crocheting – and that these are starting to generate a healthy profit. The sewing group produces cloth gnomes which are a hot item in Jordan. Hope calendars and cards are also selling well. In 2017, the Workshop earned $9,482.22 from sales – double that of the previous year. Our hope now is that the embroidery group can also start earning money, and with this in mind we have commissioned some sample tote bags which we will offer for sale here in Washington later in the year. If the FAWCO hanging and quilt fetch a good price, we hope they will join us again in 2019 for a repeat.

Training as empowerment: CRP firmly believes that training in the company of other women helps to develop skills and build confidence, and your donations are helping to make this happen. Reina organized training for four skilled artists in how to produce traditional Syrian and Iraqi stitches and they went on to train other women in the embroidery group.

Once again we hope that the embroidery training will lead to bigger things. CRP plans to open a new women’s center later this year and the training will hopefully include business management, marketing, and networking. Anisa, our associate at CRP, reports that some of the Hope women have already started their own micro-enterprises at home, drawing on the skills they have learned and the money they have earned at the Workshop.

Organization building: Our final hope is that the Workshop can grow as an organization and manage more of its activities – another important step on the refugees' journey to empowerment. How this happens will, of course, be left to CRP but we at AP stand ready to help. We have already deployed two Peace Fellows – Allyson and Reina – and a highly capable associate, Anisa, who has represented AP for the past several months. We thank Anisa for her service! We hope to send another Peace Fellow to CRP this coming summer.

It is exciting for us to see how the Workshop has grown in just two years – and we congratulate Amanda and her team at CRP. It is doubtful that this would have happened without your generosity and we are all deeply grateful. Your donations have also enabled us at AP to do what we love to do – help to plant a seed with a visionary partner and see it grow into an innovative model for change. And of course the cause of refugees could not be more important.

Thank you!

Reina, Anisa and the AP team

Memories from Iraq
Memories from Iraq
Sharing stories of refugees with American students
Sharing stories of refugees with American students
Hope ladies watching assembly of quilt
Hope ladies watching assembly of quilt
Crocheting at the Hope Workshop
Crocheting at the Hope Workshop
The FAWCO quilt symbolizes hope!
The FAWCO quilt symbolizes hope!
Learning embroidery at the Hope Workshop
Learning embroidery at the Hope Workshop

Hello generous donors!

I would like to begin this report by thanking you all for your generosity and moral support throughout this fundraising project! As you know, we launched our appeal for refugees in Jordan on World Refugee Day, earlier this summer. Thirty-three of you have donated $6,751. This has yielded more than $10,000, after bonuses were added.

The money is going to the Hope Workshop, a women’s craft cooperative that helps refugee women in Jordan to learn new skills and earn an income. The Workshop has been created by the Collateral Repair Project (CRP) which provides emergency aid and psycho-social support to refugees from the wars in the Middle East. As we pointed out in the appeal, Jordan does not allow refugees to work. But the Jordanian authorities also understand the importance of helping refugees deal with the boredom and despair of exile. CRP addresses that need, and the Hope Workshop is one of its most successful programs.

When I arrived in Jordan as a Peace Fellow of The Advocacy Project (AP), the Workshop had about 40 members. Roughly the same number had applied and were on the wait list. I was lucky enough to spend 10 weeks in Jordan getting to know these women. I interviewed them, broke my fast with them, and watched them grow in confidence. All of them had fled from war and violence. Some had lost family members. Many were separated from loved ones. All showed enormous resilience of a kind that I had never encountered before.

I was inspired by their ability not to give in to despair or lose faith. Hearing their stories and being their friend gave me an additional incentive to raise funds and advocate on their behalf. I produced profiles of several Workshop members for the AP and CRP websites.

One of our goals was to bring more women into the Hope Workshop. We also wanted to expand the products made at the Workshop. Before this summer, the women worked mostly on cards, keffiyeh gnomes, and knitwear. Your funds have enabled us to provide new training and make new products. By the time I left they were working on advent calendars for both Christmas and Ramadan which are now being ordered faster than they can be made! All of the materials used by the Workshop this year were purchased with your donations.

My second goal has been to build an embroidery program, picking up from an initiative started in 2016. As you may know, AP helps women to describe their story through embroidered squares which are turned into advocacy quilts and exhibited at events. Twelve Hope Workshop members produced 27 squares in 2016. These have since been turned into two spectacular quilts.

We decided to offer the same opportunity again this summer, and more than twenty Workshop members signed up. Using your donations, we enrolled four of the Workshop leaders - Ashwaq, Hiba, Huda (photo) and Ameera - in embroidery training at the prestigious Tiraz Museum. Here they learned the Syrian Raghme stitch, the Iraqi filling technique, and Iraqi couching, as well as the history and tradition behind these different styles of embroidery. All are interesting. For example, the Syrian Raghme stitch (photo) is dying out across the Middle East. As I wrote in one of my blogs, we are hoping to preserve this wonderful tradition.

They then went back to the Workshop and shared their new skills with other members. Your donations paid for the training and the materials - needles, thread and cloth – which they used to produce their embroidery.

This work is now well under way. I have since seen some of their squares and they are spectacular – if scary (photo). The quality of work is superb. Once completed, their squares will be assembled into quilts by quilters in the US and widely shown at events. Through this, we hope, Americans will understand how perilous the refugee’s journey can be. We want all future refugees who seek help from the CRP to have the same opportunity to tell their story through embroidery.

Of course, in learning embroidery these ladies also hope to earn some money. With this in mind we have asked them to produce a second square that describes their hopes for the future. These will be assembled into a quilt in the US and auctioned at a large conference in 2018.

Finally, thanks to your generosity, we have been able to recruit an associate in Jordan to help the ladies manage their business and report back to their supporters. This shows how the appeal is helping to make the Hope Workshop more efficient and profitable. With no end in sight to the refugee crisis, it is important that the Workshop continues to grow and improve.

After this report, I will be handing over all future updates to the very capable staff at CRP and AP. My time at CRP will always be in my heart and I hope to see the women I worked with again very soon. Inshallah!

The Hope Workshop thanks you. AP thanks you. I thank you.

Best, Reina

Reina (r), author of this report, at the Workshop
Reina (r), author of this report, at the Workshop
Huda is one of four Workshop embroidery trainers
Huda is one of four Workshop embroidery trainers
Trainees practice on the raghme stitch, from Syria
Trainees practice on the raghme stitch, from Syria
The refugees tell their story through embroidery
The refugees tell their story through embroidery
The 2016 refugee quilts are admired at US events
The 2016 refugee quilts are admired at US events

Links:

 

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Organization Information

The Advocacy Project

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AdvocacyProject
Project Leader:
Iain Guest
Washington, DC United States

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