From the wonderful Bootstrap Compassionista blog:
For centuries, women in the area now known as Palestine have expressed themselves through embroidery. Traditional patterns used in Palestinian embroidery are inspired by the familiar and resonate with the daily surroundings of their creators. Often the names of the patterns themselves are a charming reminder of their origins – ‘four eggs in a pan’, ‘the old man’s teeth’ or the wonderful ‘moons & roses’. And whilst these patterns generally symbolize good health, hope, prosperity and protection, they also have particular regional and family associations Today, the revival and maintenance of the traditional craft of embroidery has become a source of national pride and an important means for communities as a whole to move away from dependency on aid.
The Social Enterprise Project (SEP) plays an important role in supporting the community of the Jerash Camp in Jordan in their bid to achieve economic independence. By providing women in this community with the means to put their time-honoured traditions to very good use, SEP gives back to this marginalized community the dignity and respect that comes from being able to support their families. SEP is a business run by women for women. It is not about compassion-driven sales, it is about bringing out the best in refugee women and creatingfashion accessories that are as much a source of pride to the women who wear them as they are to the women who make them.
Originally established in 1968 as a temporary, ‘emergency’ facility for 11,500 displaced persons, the Jerash Camp in Jordan (known locally as the ‘Gaza’ Camp) now holds in excess of 30,000 individuals, all living and working on the same small area of land. Tellingly, there are no accurate statistics on the Jerash Camp and this number may be a low estimate.
So many of us take for granted our right to live and work with self determination, but it is companies like SEP that help make these very basic rights an achievable reality for the people of the Jerash Camp. The business acumen and international reach that they bring, coupled with the hard work and traditional craft of the Jerash women make earning a living a viable prospect. By reviving hope and passion SEP is giving this community the opportunity to stand on its own feet. In the words of Chaker Khazaal a Palestinian-Canadian writer, reporter and author of the ‘Confessions of a War Child Trilogy‘, and now a SEP Ambassador, “Palestinian refugees need employment more than handouts. Calling for support, not only through donations, but through livelihood, is crucial.”
This is why we are so proud to work with SEP. In our small way, helping them to expand their audience and, hopefully, by introducing them to new customers we can make a contribution to a sustainable system that brings empowerment to a community that has no rights. Again, in the words of Chaker Khazaal, “A simple accessory won’t solve the refugee employment crisis overnight, but it is certainly a start – one stitch at a time.”
Full story on: http://www.bootstrapcompassionista.com/stitch-in-time/