Syrians Risking their Lives to Help Victims of the War.
Rania is a jewellery designer from Syria who is helping the victims of war by teaching them how to make bracelets, which she sells to give them work and money.
I am a jewellery designer I take my inspiration in Syria. I also always thought that Syria needs to replace itself on the international scene through its local production. So produced all my collections in Damascus by conviction not by necessity. I thought that one of the ways Syria could export its culture is through its production.
But last February, I went to visit the shelters. and I saw a immediate need there. I saw that they were receiving clothes, food and shelter. so I saw what they needed the most, is money.
So a created a project with 3 objectives:
One it had to be something they could learn very fast.
It needed to be something where they earn money straight away.
It needed to be something where there is high demand for in order to secure continuous work for them.
So I came up with a little bracelet and went to see the parties responsible for the shelters… I needed a workshop and an intial investment in order to make it work. ..and of course I needed to have access to the women. and due to security policies it was not easy as some women are connected to the terrorists.. anyway, the people responsible for shelters were unhelpful so I started the project by myself.
I left notes in nearby hairdresser and restaurant that if they hear of any family who was in help I could provide them with work and money.
So this is how it started; I trained 2 women, and we started producing, the bracelets were a phenomenal success. We distributed the bracelets in Damascus and we gave 30% to practically all the charity organisations in Damascus, which totaled aproximetly 10,000$. which contributed to sustaining 50 families for 3 months in the summer. We currently have 8 women working, each have 3-5 children so the ‘I love Syria’ project is sustaining almost 50 people each month.
We worked in war like conditions, when we were distributing the bracelet we were racing with our cars, so we don’t get ambushed by the terrorists.
In only 6 months we sold 15 000 bracelet, it was surely the best development project ever made in Syria and the most successful this summer.
Until one day we got a call from presidential palace, the first lady wanted to meet me. Turns out that the people responsible for shelters, are her people who work for her NGO.
We noticed that our project does not only help financially, but also mentally. As the women coming out of the areas that were hit, often come out with trauma, so when they are working with colours and crystals, they said that they are feeling better and it is true that colours possess therapeutic properties.
Also though, the ‘I love syria’ project we were able to soften the cleavage between women coming from different backgrounds, as working together on a successful project made us come closer to each other and forget negative things.
Mostly we were able to prove that we can produce something in Syria, even in war like conditions even if the people are not educated and make it a product with international standards, the fact that this was not done before is precisely the reason we are where we are today in my opinion. As most investments made in Syria were made solely to make money and profit not taking into account historical, cultural, ecological and most importantly human factors. This is why I think, one of the ways to transcend the current crisis and prepare for a post war era, is to invest in the Syrian people.
This is what I have been telling people for 10 years, but no one would listen. Everybody was busy smoking arguileh, hanging out in cafes and congratulating themselves on their new hairdos, new outfits and latest mobile phones. You cant blame them, as all of it was new to them, as deregulation happened in a drastic way, but that’s another story all together. It is time to wake up now and learn from passed mistakes. We need another 500 of these projects! You just need to have the will and the intent to invest in the Syrian people and this is where the problem is.
So now we are turned to distributing our bracelet to Canada and America.
It can be pretty dangerous, which reminds me, that when we were in Damascus on the highways racing to distribute the ‘I love Syria’ bracelet in the different regions of Syria. Had the terrorist caught us with 1000’s of bracelets with Syrian national flag..they would have probably skinned us alive..or given us a very slow and painful death, but we still raced before curfue.. and that was the fun thing about the bracelet we felt excited and proud that inspite of the terrible conditions the ‘I love syria’ bracelet was being produced under the bombs and distributed all over the country and bring colour and sparkle and life to a country surrounded by death…so whatever we do there will be a risk of something happening to you, especially with these criminals, if they kill me then I will just be another victim of their savageness along 1000’s of my countrymen, who have already died. my life is not more valuable then theirs.