Image: Detail from Thread Bearing Witness, Alice Kettle, 2018.
For Refugee Day (20 June 2020) the International Rescue Committee is celebrating essential workers who are also refugees. Every day, refugees are playing essential roles in the front line fight against COVID-19. “They are doctors, community leaders, food distributors and volunteers stepping up to keep their communities safe and strong. When you have gone without care, you make it your mission to heal. When you know what it’s like to go hungry, you feed people. When you’ve been without a place to call home, you work to give others the safety of one.” Join their campaign of thanks and find out how you can support their work at www.rescue-uk.org.
Textile enterprises that provide employment to displaced people are another way to give financially. Kissweh is an embroidery studio based in Los Angeles and Beirut. The studio's goals are: to be a contemporary source of exquisitely designed and timeless products inspired by the rich folk art of traditional Palestinian needlework motifs; and to give skilled craftswomen living in the refugee camps of Lebanon the opportunity to earn a fair living from their artisan skills. Their products have an emphasis on meticulous and fine craftsmanship (it takes a woman 2-3 weeks to embroider one pillow) and carefully selected top quality cotton threads and linens. www.Kissweh.com
SilaiWali is a social enterprise from New Delhi which uses up-cycled waste fabric from clothing manufacturers to create hand-crafted dolls made by Afghan woman refugees in India. The women sew and embroider by hand, bringing craftsmanship and inspiration from their homeland to create beautiful dolls. Each SilaiWali doll tells a story. Their bodies are made of cotton canvas with colours of skin of different hues to celebrate cultural diversity. Dressed in embroidered cotton tunics, chambray dresses or indigo kaftans, the prints and natural materials give a sense of chic bohemianism. Far from stereotypical pink princess dolls, these are doll-women of the world. www.silaiwali.com
Visit Alice Kettle's Thread Bearing Witness for more resources and ideas. Although Alice's Stitch a Tree community project is complete, the site is still live.