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Stories from the Field

Stitching Hope: Empowering Resilience and Creativity in a Refugee's Journey

Stitching Hope: Empowering Resilience and Creativity in a Refugee's Journey

In the bustling city of Tripoli, North Lebanon, there lived a resilient woman named Elham. At the age of 35, she had already endured more challenges than most people experience in a lifetime. Hailing from Syria, she arrived in Lebanon in 2011, seeking refuge from the devastating war that had torn her homeland apart.

Elham was not alone; she was a mother of six children, all of whom relied on her strength and determination to provide for them. Life as a refugee was far from easy, but Elham refused to let her circumstances define her.
One day, Elham came across an initiative called 'Kowetna B 3amalna,' which was supported by the Fostering Refugee Leadership project. The project is implemented in Lebanon in partnership with the Resourcing Refugee Leadership Initiative (rrli) under the umbrella of the Civil Society Enablement unit in Basmeh & Zeitooneh and it aims to enhance the preparedness and sustainability of Refugee-Led Organizations (RLOs). 'Kowetna B 3amalna' is a grantee initiative by Basmeh & Zeitooneh and specifically focuses on empowering refugee women. The initiative provides them with training and resources to upcycle clothes and create unique designs for sale.
Though Elham had no prior experience in sewing or design, she saw this as an opportunity to learn something new and possibly create a source of income for her family. With her heart filled with hope, she decided to join the initiative.


Initially, Elham found herself overwhelmed by the complexities of sewing and designing. The fire that had ravaged her house in Syria had left her vocal cords damaged, posing communication and learning challenges. However, the nurturing environment of the initiative and the constant encouragement from the project's mentors fueled her determination to persevere.
As Elham participated in the training, she slowly started gaining confidence. She learned how to create beautiful designs on paper and then translate them into real clothes.
In addition to the technical skills, the initiative also offered psychosocial support sessions for the participants. These sessions proved to be a crucial part of Elham's healing process. She found a safe space to express her feelings and fears. It was a place where she could begin to heal emotionally and regain control of her life.

With newfound skills and a renewed spirit, Elham completed her first set of five beautifully upcycled garments. Her eyes sparkled with joy as she held them up, proud of what she had achieved. "I felt that I can produce," she expressed with heartfelt enthusiasm.

As Elham's journey with the "Kowetna B 3amalna" initiative continued, she faced moments of self-doubt. The challenges of balancing work, motherhood, and her health often made her question whether she could continue. However, as Elham observed the results of her hard work, her confidence soared, she witnessed how the efforts of her and her brought positive change to the community.