A few years ago, while volunteering at the African Refugee Development Centre as an Art Teacher, my colleague and friend, Diddy Khan, and I decided to create a group to empower women by making art for refugee women.
We had no idea what to expect or where this journey would take us. Our start was very humble. We literally took some colors, scissors and paper and went into the rooms of the Women’s shelter to teach the ladies about how to make Greeting Cards. Well to say it was a disaster is an understatement!
I learnt something very valuable that day about cultural sensitivity. We needed another plan. So we decided to approach the women with a plan to make key-ring hearts out of felt and beads. YES! Sewing was natural to many of the women and soon our group was in full swing.
The women were empowered by making something beautiful that people wanted to buy. Satisfaction of making something and getting paid for it! We also realized that the group offered more than that…it offered a shared space of love and support.
It wasn’t long before we started collaborating with designers and developed our flagship product. Special thanks to the late Puah, owner of Puah Cafe and Ma'asiya shop in Jaffa for believing in our vision!
The group decided that its name would be Kuchinate, which means Crochet in Tigrinian. Today we receive funding from various organizations, are a registered Non- profit organization. We sell our baskets at fairs and markets. BUT – we could always use more people to help.
Come buy your favorite basket from the Women at the Namal on Fridays or please visit out lovely studio on Harzion Street no 104.