Turkish NGO Offers Refugee Women the Chance to Take Control of Their Future

All the money made from selling the handicrafts goes to the refugee women who make them, providing a much needed source of income writes Alsouria

“Dream” — a brand registered in the name of Syrian refugee women in Turkey and their products sold abroad

 

Syrian refugee women who have learnt handicrafts during training courses organized by the Turkish NGO, Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), has established a trademark under the name “Dream” to sell goods made at the center by the refugees.

In cooperation with the Turkish AFAD group, the association opened a center for refugee women in Istanbul about two and a half years ago with the aim of helping refugees to acclimatise to social and economic life in the country.

The president of the association, Sara Aydin Yilmaz, said that the center was helping refugees take greater control of their lives through projects that aimed to increase their integration into society.

She said that the center was helping refugees learn some professions, while also strengthening confidence in themselves, and giving them an income by selling products that they make at the center.

She added: “As you know, these women have lost some confidence in themselves after fleeing their country because of the war. In this center we are working to restore their confidence and secure livelihoods which they previously enjoyed in their mother country.”

Yilmaz said that at first the centre launched Turkish language courses for the refugee women, and then added a variety of other courses to teach a number of skills and handicrafts, which hopes to enable them to secure a source of income and ease their integration into Turkish society, fulfilling their dreams of a more secure future.

She said that the center was providing refugee women with a number of courses like sewing, handwriting, photography and using computers.

She said that “the center has so far provided courses to about 62 refugee women, and they have merged their hopes and dreams with the skills that they have learnt on these courses.”

She added: “This inspired us to establish a special brand for the refugee women with the name ‘Dream’ whereby the products they make are sold on a number of platforms inside and outside Turkey.”

The proceeds from the products go to the refugees, which contributes to their economic and social integration.

Amal Ghazeer, 47, a Syrian refugee who came to Istanbul nine months ago from the city of Homs, told Anadolu News Agency that her husband had died while being tortured in one of Assad’s prisons and that she had fled with her children to Turkey.

She said that she had learnt handicrafts at the center and that in time she would be able to work in a workshop.

She called on other refugee women to attend the center and learn new skills, and expressed her thanks and gratitude to KADEM for the opportunities they had offered refugee women.

For her part, Nada Hamayk, 50, a Syrian refugee from Damascus, said that the center gave her a chance to work, which she needed to secure a livelihood, and expressed her gratitude to the center.

Ghafran Ashour, 21, who has been a refugee with her family for five years, and is a student at Istanbul University, said she visits the center in her spare time to learn handicrafts. She has earned enough money through this to cover her university expenses.

Bushra Ashour praised the center, where she met many friends. She added: “I have learned a lot at the center, which has helped me take control of my life again by earning money from the products we make and sell. The center has turned my dreams and hopes into reality.”

 

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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