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Displaced Palestinian Women Turn to Handicrafts to Provide for Their Families

Published : 24-11-2019

Displaced Palestinian Women Turn to Handicrafts to Provide for Their Families

A number of Palestinian refugees who were displaced from Syria to Lebanon have got into embroidery to earn a living to feed their children.

A so-called Amna who closed her beauty salon in Syria when the war started decided to enroll in an embroidery training, after she was eventually relocated to the Shatila refugee camp in southern Beirut in 2013.

 “We are like a family here,” Amna told Al-Monitor, as she introduced a small group of her colleagues at the Shatila Studio workshop.

The studio was established with funding by Basmeh & Zeitooneh, which has trained over a thousand women between 2013 and 2018. The scarves, bags and cushion covers the women made were sold and the trainees received a small sum per piece sold. At the end of 2018, however, the project ran out of funding and the studio was about to close.

According to Al-Monitor, four former trainees decided to take over the studio. Niveen, Boushra, Fatimah and Samar, who were already working as artisans and supervisors at the studio, decided to turn it into a business.

“It was a huge step,” Niveen Sokari, co-director and the chief financial officer of the studio, told Al-Monitor. “Everything changed. We had to be more organized and always keep an eye on the figures.”

Sokari, a Palestinian born in Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, spoke to Al-Monitor in her small office, whose walls are covered by hand-written spreadsheets illustrating the revenues, monthly profits and accumulated earnings.

She told Al-Monitor that the studio faces many ups and downs, which should not come as a surprise for a startup, but the accumulated earnings are slowly increasing.

“Since we turned into a business, one of the things I am most proud of is how the quality of our products improved,” she said, explaining that they are able to “offer something unique” to the international markets.

Most of the products from the collection of Shatila Studio are sold online, but they are planning to open a small showroom at the studio, which is located in the camp.

The studio offers a stable income to 74 women, but more women — up to a hundred — get involved when there is a lot of work. The artisans are paid by the piece, regardless if it is sold or not.

Shatila Studio’s identity is deeply connected with war, forced migration and refugee camps. Sokari grew up in Yarmouk, in Syria. But when she arrived in Shatila she was just shocked.

“I had no idea a refugee camp could look this bad,” she said. “Before coming to Lebanon — even though I am a Syrian Palestinian — I did not consider myself a refugee. Here I was forced to fit into this identity.”

“It is war that brought us together,” the Shatila Studio website states. Its logo features birds resting on power lines, one of the most common sights in the camp.

“Our embroideries tell our own stories,” Sokari added. “Shatila is our identity, it is where we are from. But with our skills, we can get our voice out into the world.”

Short URL : http://www.actionpal.org.uk/en/post/9391

A number of Palestinian refugees who were displaced from Syria to Lebanon have got into embroidery to earn a living to feed their children.

A so-called Amna who closed her beauty salon in Syria when the war started decided to enroll in an embroidery training, after she was eventually relocated to the Shatila refugee camp in southern Beirut in 2013.

 “We are like a family here,” Amna told Al-Monitor, as she introduced a small group of her colleagues at the Shatila Studio workshop.

The studio was established with funding by Basmeh & Zeitooneh, which has trained over a thousand women between 2013 and 2018. The scarves, bags and cushion covers the women made were sold and the trainees received a small sum per piece sold. At the end of 2018, however, the project ran out of funding and the studio was about to close.

According to Al-Monitor, four former trainees decided to take over the studio. Niveen, Boushra, Fatimah and Samar, who were already working as artisans and supervisors at the studio, decided to turn it into a business.

“It was a huge step,” Niveen Sokari, co-director and the chief financial officer of the studio, told Al-Monitor. “Everything changed. We had to be more organized and always keep an eye on the figures.”

Sokari, a Palestinian born in Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, spoke to Al-Monitor in her small office, whose walls are covered by hand-written spreadsheets illustrating the revenues, monthly profits and accumulated earnings.

She told Al-Monitor that the studio faces many ups and downs, which should not come as a surprise for a startup, but the accumulated earnings are slowly increasing.

“Since we turned into a business, one of the things I am most proud of is how the quality of our products improved,” she said, explaining that they are able to “offer something unique” to the international markets.

Most of the products from the collection of Shatila Studio are sold online, but they are planning to open a small showroom at the studio, which is located in the camp.

The studio offers a stable income to 74 women, but more women — up to a hundred — get involved when there is a lot of work. The artisans are paid by the piece, regardless if it is sold or not.

Shatila Studio’s identity is deeply connected with war, forced migration and refugee camps. Sokari grew up in Yarmouk, in Syria. But when she arrived in Shatila she was just shocked.

“I had no idea a refugee camp could look this bad,” she said. “Before coming to Lebanon — even though I am a Syrian Palestinian — I did not consider myself a refugee. Here I was forced to fit into this identity.”

“It is war that brought us together,” the Shatila Studio website states. Its logo features birds resting on power lines, one of the most common sights in the camp.

“Our embroideries tell our own stories,” Sokari added. “Shatila is our identity, it is where we are from. But with our skills, we can get our voice out into the world.”

Short URL : http://www.actionpal.org.uk/en/post/9391