We are continually inspired by the stories of our artisans - the journey they have endured and the beautiful pieces they have handcrafted.
Some of the artisans we work with are refugees. Their courage, strength and perseverance is heartening, but what inspires us most is their contribution to economic independence and resilience to build a brighter future for themselves and their families.
Our artisan partner WomenCraft, based out of Ngara in Tanzania, is doing incredible work to bring together refugees affected by civil war through the art of weaving. We are honoured to be working with them and share the remarkable stories of Josephine, Esperance and Nyamvura, Burundian refugee artisans who weave whilst living in the Mtendeli Camp in Tanzania.
Even though the camp has offered them a safe haven, they continue to make unimaginable sacrifices. Their stories share hope, solidarity and empowerment and their identity as humans - not refugees. These women are skilled craftspeople, mothers, daughters, friends, leaders and change makers, and in our minds - the real life superheroes.
The opportunity to work and earn a living is one of the most effective ways refugees can rebuild their lives in dignity and peace. We hope this video and the stories will inspire you as much as they've inspired us.
Continue on to read ESPERANCE'S and NYAMVURA'S inspiring stories
SUPPORTING REFUGEES IN THE UK
The plight of refugees around the world is heartbreaking and for many of us, it's on our doorstep and we have the power to help make a difference.
There are many organisations doing great work to support refugees in the UK, one of which is Tunbridge Wells Welcomes Refugees (TWWR) - a charity that Naeema is closely involved with that supports Syrian refugee families settle in the UK. Through TWWR, Naeema also became involved with Migrateful - an initiative which empowers refugees and vulnerable migrants to run their own cookery classes.
Working with refugees is an incredibly humbling, rewarding and heartwarming experience which really puts life into perspective, reminding us how lucky we are.
TUNBRIDGE WELLS WELCOMES REFUGEES
TWWR is a charity run by a group of volunteer residents who welcome and support Syrian refugees arriving in Tunbridge Wells. As part of the national campaign to help resettle refugees across the UK, and working together with the local council and community support groups, TWWR's mission is to help families successfully integrate into the local community as they rebuild their lives after fleeing violence and conflict in Syria.
TWWR provides families with much needed support that includes finding suitable accommodation, help with English language classes, guidance on accessing healthcare and utility services, as well as showing them how to use public transport and where to shop for essential amenities - basic things that we take for granted. Volunteers also give mentoring support which includes career advice and assist individuals with seeking employment. Several social activities are also organised regularly which is a great way of connecting together.
As the families adjust to living in a new country, between two cultures (theirs and that of their new home), TWWR hopes to create better understanding between different communities to enable the families to live in safety and continue making a valuable contribution.
Find out more about TWWR here.
Migrateful is a cookery and language initiative whose mission is to empower and celebrate refugees and vulnerable migrants on their journey to integration by supporting them to run their own cookery classes.
It's a social enterprise where refugees, who are struggling to access employment in the UK, get to teach their traditional cuisines to the public - something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do due to legal and linguistic barriers.
Training is provided which focuses on improving spoken English, leadership and confidence skills. It also involves practicing teaching each other their dishes whilst learning professional cheffing skills.
The aim is to go on a journey from being a passionate home cook to a confident cookery class teacher, where the positive and personal interactions that take place in a class, help to build understanding, challenge preconceptions and break down cultural barriers. It’s a wonderful way for the chefs to share their stories and develop key employability skills.
Migrateful runs a variety of cooking classes in London that you can book on to via their website.
Click here to book a class.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
If you're interested in getting involved with supporting refugees either in the UK or abroad, these are just some of the ways you can help:
Like Tunbridge Wells Welcomes Refugees, there are lots of other refugee welcome groups all over the UK - just search online for your local area. There are groups in Bath, Camden, Cheltenham, Lewes, Manchester, Nottingham, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks - to name just a few!
There are also organisations such as The Refugee Council, Help Refugees, Red Cross, Safe Passage and The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR that you can reach out to - they all depend on the support of volunteers and together we can all make a difference.
MADE BY REFUGEES AT WOMENCRAFT
Shop Ugwafu Lustre Trays
Shop Ugwafu Lustre Tablemats
"Refugees have skills and talents that only need a chance to grow and flourish. Within each piece lies a story of history and culture, and the chance for a person who has fled war and persecution to offer something of beauty and style to the world."
Filippo Grandi | UNHCR