To celebrate International Women's Day, we've collaborated with Sabbara, an organisation working to support Syrian refugee women through beautiful artisan fashion and homeware
In support of women for International Women’s Day, we teamed up with Sabbara, an organisation that employs and empowers Syrian refugee women through beautiful handmade fashion and homeware. Lulu was proud to design a lip-embroidered clutch that was then made by Syrian artisans who are highly skilled in embroidery, knitting and other local crafts. "Stitching calms you down and for the time you are doing it, you can have some respite from reality. It was an honour to contribute a design and I am thrilled with the resulting piece lovingly created!", says Lulu.
Meaning of Sabbara
Sabbara means cactus in Arabic, but also means a strong, resilient and patient woman. Like cactuses, Syrian women have learnt to survive where nothing else can.
Sabbara started in the first year of the Syrian conflict. Its Syrian female founders were involved in the local humanitarian response, and were particularly struck at the plight of women - many were widows supporting their children alone, illiterate or with little education or skills. The organisation wanted to help and empower them.
How it helps women
Sabbara works with displaced women inside Syria, and refugee women in Lebanon who experience extreme poverty and trauma due to displacement, unemployment, and loss of a husband's income, amongst other issues.
Sabbara enables women who have lost everything to earn a dignified income and lift their families out of poverty. The artisans also find a creative outlet for trauma and become part of a supportive sisterhood.
All about craftmanship
Sabbara’s pieces are all lovingly hand-crafted by highly skilled Syrian women who have often learned their skills from their mothers and grandmothers before them. The designs, based on traditional Syrian patterns, feature intricate embroidery, complex knitting all in an array of bright colours. You’ll find shawls, scarves, clutches, bags and homeware pieces like cushions, all hand-stitched.
Lulu donated a clutch design to the project, which will be sold at sabbara.org. Her design features the signature lip motif. The needlework used is cross-stitch with an LG monogram and the embroidery on each bag takes one woman ten days to complete.
Fatima is the artisan who worked on Lulu’s clutch design. Fatima and her family fled Syria six years ago due to intensive bombing that destroyed their home and her husband’s livelihood. They moved to neighbouring Lebanon, a tiny country where over a quarter of the population are refugees and the state and UN have struggled to cope. Life seemed almost equally bleak until Fatima was able to find paid work through Sabbara thanks to her incredible embroidery skills and now she can support her family. “I really love doing embroidery, I work from my heart”, says Fatima. “My emotions are in each piece - every joy, every homesick feeling, every bit of nostalgia for our country, we put it into our work.”
How to buy and support/donate
As well as taking a look at the wonderful pieces available to buy at Sabbara.org, you can support the organisation with a monetary donation or by donating yarn for the artisans to weave their magic with! 100% of every donation goes directly into funding its programmes which provide shelter, food, therapy and job training. Find out more at Sabbara.org.