When we were thinking about moving to Lebanon, the dream of working with the refugees began to take root in my heart. Honestly, I have only been able to fullfill this dream in scattered moments. Yet despite how small these encounters are they move me beyond words. My refugee friend’s stories are filled with much more than running from a war and a displaced people. So much more. They include family members killed by ISIS, rape, beautiful homes taken away and I don’t even begin to know the sum of the pain. Add to that the poverty, discrimination, and the lack of hope they find here.
This is a question that has been grappled with by powerful vast organizations, world leaders, everything in-between, and by me. Perhaps by you also?
It is one thing to hand out the fish. It is another to provide the fishing gear and the know-how. Which would you rather have? Personally, I like being in control. The later choice would give me a significant amount of additional choices. I could control when I was going to try to fish, and for how long each day, and until I obtained the amount of fish I wanted. Waiting for the hand-out would leave me completely dependent, unsure, and without control or ability to chose anything.
This summer, my sister-in-law, messaged me with an idea of refugees embroidering cards. She then linked me to many different images and patterns. They were gorgeous. Later she dropped off a large package of numerous bright colors of embroidery thread from a family friend who had died.
Not having a stitch of sewing talent in me (pun fully intended), I quivered a bit at the idea of launching this, but finally after procrastinating for well over a month I had a go at the first embroidery card as an “example”. To my surprise, it was kind of fun. Then my neighbor, and Arabic tutor, decided to do one. She added beads to hers and caught the vision and excitement.
From there we met with the graphic design and business department at MEU, with the desires of developing designs specific to the Middle East and that students can use this as a marketing project. Also, each card will include a personal story about each refugee. My neighbor and I went shopping to make sure we could purchase the card stock and envelopes at an affordable price (as imported goods tend to be extremely overpriced). Excitedly, we found the paper goods we needed at a reasonable cost.
Then we began to train our first little group of willing ladies. They needed to get a light bulb to make their one tiny room “villa” (in reality it is a drab garage space) brighter, so they could see to do the needle work. They also had to deal with the bitter disappointment of being turned down by the UN for a scheduled appointment (this is how refugees get a glimmer of hope to travel and go to live in another country). These appointments are long anticipated and would exceed the anticipation of a child longing for their birthday or for Christmas to come.
So, somewhere between my procrastination and lack of sewing anything, to thread donated from someone who loved to craft and died, to a neighbor helping, a university’s enthusiasm, to refugees needing control of a money source but dealing with their own disappointments….tah dah….a micro industry is being born.
You may ask, “How can I help?”
I need someone or a group of people who would be willing to assemble the cards in America and mail to people as they order. Meaning, the cards would be hand sewn here. However, then they need to be mounted onto cardstock and put in an envelope and mailed. The cardstock and envelopes add significant cost here because all the material is imported. We would save incredible amounts of money if this could be done stateside.
If you would be willing to sell cards to your friends this would really be an incredible blessing. The price will be $7 a card, or 2 for $12 or 3 for $17, or 4 for $20. I can get them to you just around Christmas, but probably not in time for them to be gifted before Christmas.
Meanwhile, if you have some embroidery thread tucked away collecting dust, would you be willing to pop it in the mail and donate it? I can provide a USA address and will be able to get it from there this December. That thread could be the link to empower some women to gain partial control of when, what, and how they will eat and live. Bright, happy colors are needed most and green colors for leaves.
Or, if you would like to donate money to this project, as seed money, then that could be a real blessing also.
As always, thank you for your interest, your love, and your prayers. It is my desire to see this project grow as we provide hope to women, one card at a time.
Please send me a personal message here or on Social media or at firstname.lastname@example.org for any of the above options.