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Behind the Pouch: Heartwarming stories of Syrian women in Lebanon

Posted by MADE51 Team on

Introducing the Pouch of Unity. This limited edition product in honour of International Women’s Day represents the beauty of unity - of women supporting women, whether sisters, friends, or strangers - in order to uplift and  empower one another.

We believe that when women thrive, communities thrive. Each pouch is delicately hand-embroidered by Syrian refugee women working with Rim N’Roll, a social enterprise in Lebanon that collaborate with MADE51.

Mona, Fairuz and Amneh work together to create the Pouch of Unity in a refugee workspace called Shatila Studio in Beirut. 

Meet Amneh

Amneh is a 62 year-old widow. She was forced to flee her home in Aleppo in 2012 and now lives with her brother and his family. Originally a hair stylist in Syria, Amneh had to learn the skill of embroidery when she arrived in Lebanon, recognising it as a way to survive. 

This work and skill is essential for her wellbeing--it allows her to be financially independent and to free her mind of being so far from her home country. 

For Amneh, the women on the pouch represents her and her sisters, a family torn apart due to war. They also represents a united society, which is one missed by many refugees around the world. As she works her needle, bringing these characters to life, she feels more peaceful inside. 

“Embroidery to me is a new life, a new beginning. Every stitch relieves me and gives me hope not to give up on life and love every moment of it.”

Amneh believes in a better world where the empowerment of women moves society towards a better future where all are equal. 

Meet Fairuz

Fairuz left her home in Daraa, Syria in 2011 with her family when her town was bombed. Now 47, she is a master embroiderer, a skill she learned after the tragic death of her son in Daraa.  

“Shaken after the death of my son and the departure from my home country, the hours I spend embroidering help me restore my wellbeing on a daily basis.”

She continued to use this skill as a refugee in Lebanon. For her, it allows continuation of life, stress relief, and a chance to leave a personal touch wherever she goes.

Fairuz believes that empowered women are essential for all levels of society to thrive. For her, the women on the pouch are symbolic of family unity and the importance of love.

Meet Mona

For another refugee artisan, Mona, the diverse women on the pouch reminds her of her childhood with family and friends. 

“Working in a group of strong and independent women helped me find a new family and to forget the daily longing and nostalgia I have for my native country.”

Mona is originally from Raka, Syria. Back in Raka her husband did not allow her to leave the family home without permission until she was able to convince him that learning embroidery would help them stay afloat during their financial troubles. With permission to leave unattended, Mona learned this beautiful skill.

In 2015 Mona and her husband and children were forced to flee when their city came under siege. Later, facing life as a refugee, it was indeed embroidery that became a lifeline. It bought her to Rim N’ Roll, where she works as a master embroiderer crafting stunning accessories, including the pouch of unity. 

We are honoured to share the stories of these three strong, independent women, whom against all odds have been able to find financial stability, a welcoming community and unity. 

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