Samiha, one of the women in our empowerment program, working in her shop
“Normalcy” is an elusive concept for people affected by war. They can’t just go back to life before the crisis, so they are forced to create a new sort of “normal.”
For the women in our empowerment programs, like Ikhlas, that new sense of normal is stitched together one garment at a time, to the rhythmic hum of a sewing machine. Each item they make and sell is a piece of the new life that they are designing and creating.
About year ago, we became friends with women and families from a displacement camp near our office in Iraq. We sat down with them to discuss ways of getting them on the road to self-sufficiency. Entrepreneurship through sewing was one of the first ideas that came up, because so many of them learned to sew as children.
For these displaced women, sewing is not only practical, it is also a source of joy, transporting them back to more pleasant times and happy childhood memories.
Based on those conversations, we purchased sewing machines for several of the women and gave them resources to get started. As savvy business people, they all wanted to create their own niche in the market, so each one picked out different materials. Each one makes unique items to sell. They have their own creative vision for their businesses.
While we provide support, coaching and friendship, the success of each business depends largely on each woman’s own entrepreneurial drive, personal tenacity and creativity—attributes these women have in spades.
Our team meeting with another one of our seamstresses in her shop
Ikhlas, for example, is bound and determined to push through setbacks and obstacles and find success. For her, this business represents a hopeful future where she can provide for her family.
Even though her future looks different from the one she pictured before the war with ISIS, Ikhlas is resolved to carve out a new life for herself and her family.
While she cannot unmake the violence that ripped her family from their homes, she can remake her life the same way she sews each project—one stitch, and one piece, at time.
Your choice to purchase sewing machines for ladies like Ikhlas is a choice to remake your world, one dollar at a time. It allows these women to remake their life, one stitch at a time.
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