Artistic workshops are such an important way for the refugee women we work with at Women of the World to feel empowered. By providing a creative outlet for these women, we are not only opening up space for them to create connections with women from different cultures, they are also able to have space for themselves away from all of the day-to-day stresses to focus on themselves. There is currently a lot of support in the refugee community as far as welfare, jobs, finances, etc. but we believe at Women of the World that mental health is also a very important factor to encourage women and mothers to feel empowered.
This month we held our first creative workshop. We were so lucky to find a wonderful mother named Holly and her three daughters who volunteered their time to build a rug-making workshop for the ladies we work with. I mentioned the need for a creative workshop to Holly and her daughters at our volunteer orientation and then Holly just took it from there!
She and her daughters researched the Internet and found directions to make a small rug on Pinterest. They practiced the instructions and made a demo rug to fit the needs of the women we had discuss women they would be able to host at the event and sent it to us. One of her daughters, Clara, called a grocery store in their neighborhood and procured some old boxes. Holly taped and measured and her daughters cut slits in the boxes. They had a lot of old sheets but ended up buying some at the DI and tore them into strips. They counted out the strips the night before and bundled them together for 15 women.
The workshop was a hit! We had exactly 15 women show up, some with their adorable children. The women were from a variety of countries, Burma, Iraq, Iran, Somalia and more. Some of the women were really focused and made tight, perfect, rugs while others were laughing, chatting, and just having a good time.
Holly’s daughters distracted the kids with blocks and kept them entertained during the entire workshop, allowing the ladies a chance to just let loose and have a good time, or focus on the work they were doing. Holly said,
“We loved the way they each approached the task so differently – how some were very serious and perhaps it was more of an outlet for them and others saw it more as a time to socialize and have fun. Both were great. It was fun to see them interact and though we didn’t know their languages, we thought it worked well to have something that didn’t need a lot of verbal instruction and that was hands-on and that we could communicate through showing each other.”
Also, our ladies where visiting with each other with what little English they could speak and that is what makes our organization great — we gather ladies from all over the world and help them to understand English by using it. Holly also said that it was an amazing and rare opportunity for her and her girls. She said,
“I love seeing them exposed to different people, cultures and religions. Our girls all came away with a deep respect and love for these women and children, though our time with them was short. When we walked out of the building that night, they were unanimous in their reaction of how fun it was and asking when we could do it again. I wholeheartedly concurred.”
We cannot thank Holly and her daughters enough for all of the hard work they put into running this workshop! When the workshop was finished, the ladies were already asking when we would be holding another workshop. That is where we need your help!
We could always use volunteers to use their creative minds to come up with workshops for the refugee women we work with. We also need donors for craft supplies such as yarn, paint, canvas, beads, fabric, etc. Some ideas I have for future workshops are a paint night, budget friendly, homemade, children’s toys and activities, or a jewelry making night. Please let me know if any of those activities interest you or if you have any other ideas for creative workshops. We would like to hold at least one creative workshop a month and are still looking for volunteers to host the September and October artistic workshop.
Feel free to contact me, Stefani, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for putting the time in to read this post, feel free to email me with any suggestions or comments.