Meet Lamia, one of the artisans working with our local partner, Yadawee, in Egypt. Yadawee works with Syrian, Sudanese, South Sudanese and Ethiopian refugee women, as well as local artisans, creating beautiful products that range from totes to aprons, scarves to tea towels.
We were honoured that Lamia shared her story and reflected on the ways that artisanal work positively impacts her life as a refugee.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Lama Saad Ismail, from Syria, I came to Egypt in 2012 with my husband and children. I am forty-two years old...I have four children, three boys and a girl who are in elementary and secondary schools
You were recently working on a crochet ornament for the Holiday Collection. Can you tell us more about the crochet and how you learned this skill?
I like amigurumi [the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures] and learned it when I came to Egypt. I used to crochet, but in 2014 I started hearing about amigurumi courses. It was a new art form in Egypt at the time, so I learned about it and enrolled.
I began with a beginner's course and progressed to an advanced course. Then I took the ToT (Training of Trainers) course, after which I became a certified trainer. For the past three years, I have been training courses in various waves. I also work here as a supervisor. I supervise the outcome and delivery of a production team, train them on new products and how to work on them until a finished product is delivered.
Yadawee artisan, Lamia Saad Ismail working on the Noble Donkey ornament that is part of MADE51's Holiday Collection.
How did you find it working on the 'Noble Donkey' last fall?
I was initially taken aback by the concept of designing a donkey. After that, I really liked its size and colours, which were lovely. Its colours make it suitable for use as a toy for children, or as a key chain. It could also serve as a holiday decoration.
It's very well made, and we work on it as a team, breaking the product down into parts. Some of us work on the legs, while others work on the body, head, and ears, making it easier to work. So, when we put everything together at the end, with everything done and embroidered, it becomes a neat product that makes us proud... and when we produce it, it's usually a large order, which means a better income for us all .
Noble Donkey ornament made in partnership with Yadawee
Lamia at work in the Yadawee workshop with several artisans & team members.
How does artisan work help you financially?
Financially, the outcome is satisfactory and the money we earn at the end -especially if it's a large order - is very pleasing. I can make use of this amount, giving that I have a family and children, I can make use of it for anything
Is there a message you would like to send to the people who buy a product you make, like the Noble Donkey, for example?
I hope that whoever sees it, holds it, or buys it understands its worth and the amount of effort that went into it. Above all, I hope they realize it was made with love. So, whoever purchases this piece, I hope they recognize its worth, whether old or young, because it was created with effort. That's what I'm hoping for, and that they know everything about it: how it was made, not just the process of production, but the thread used in it, the people who made it, and the time it took to have a finished product. Because if they know everything, they will recognize its value and cherish it.