A refugee’s sense of self-worth can sometimes diminish after years of being unable to work or support themselves. But Hope Workshop offers women the opportunity to regain some independence and bring in a little income for their families.
Hope Workshop is a craft collective that meets in the women-only section of our community center in Hashemi Shamali. Participants create and sell their crafts, with 10 percent of the profits going to support the workshop and the remaining funds being given directly to the crafters.
The workshop also offers women a relaxed space to talk, bond, and escape from the worries of everyday life.
Noor, a refugee from Iraq, came to Jordan in 2012 with her husband and daughter. She has participated with the Hope Workshop since it started in 2015.
Were you excited when you found out about the Hope Workshop? Have you always liked sewing and making crafts?
I was extremely excited! I was one of the first people there. I really like to make things with my hands and I love sewing.
Why do you enjoy making things with your hands? Does help you relax?
When I come to CRP, I consider myself coming to have fun. It’s a breath of fresh air and I don’t consider it work. I really enjoy it. At home, things are stressful and I overthink about many things, especially getting resettled.
Our status here is not permanent; This isn’t my permanent home. We’ve been waiting for years, and 24 hours a day we think about getting resettled. Even when I’m just cooking, all I can think about is getting resettled.
So many questions cross my mind. Why didn’t they contact me yet? Why is the process late? Why did this person leave before me? Is there something wrong with my file? Did I do anything wrong? Was it my fault? There are so many questions.
But the questions stop when I come to Hope Workshop; I forget all these questions because I’m distracted by the work and the measurements. Sometimes I stay for hours to destress, relax, and stop overthinking.
Can you tell us about things you’ve made over the years?
We started with cards, which was easy. Then we moved on to embroidery and our instructor would prepare fabric squares with designs.
We also do a lot of sewing and work a lot on that. It isn’t very difficult because we’re always very excited to work and make our own designs, like flowers for example and sewing them to the pillow cases.
Do you find it helpful to have a space that’s just for women?
Definitely. At home it’s normal not to wear a hijab, but when we go out some of us have to wear hijabs. Having our own space outside of the home allows us to feel comfortable and just relax.
Have you made any close friends at Hope Workshop?
I met my best friend, Sara, when she came to register for the workshop with her sister in 2017. They told them that they’d have to wait because there were so many people, but I told them don’t worry, you’ll become part of our program and everything will be okay!
Sara is naturally very quiet, so at first we would just talk about simple things. But then I got to know her better and now we have a special bond. She has qualities that are different from others. For me, I know that someone will be my friend by the things they do. For example, I would say something and she would support me; she would understand how I felt more than anyone else. She is a very kind and honest person. That’s a very important thing to me.
What does her friendship mean to you? Does it help you handle the challenges in your life?
Her friendship is helpful to me in many ways. If I’m stressed or upset about something, I know my husband is there to support me and that he understands me. But it’s not the same as my friend.
Sara is like a sister to me. She gives me hope if I feel upset about the resettlement process. She always supports me through everything. If I ever feel stressed at home, she will invite me over to cook a meal, do some sewing, go shopping together, or sit together in a coffee shop.
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