our work overseas

Syrian winter clothing kits: how sourcing locally is changing lives

Syrian refugee women are using their skills to help children survive winter.

“When my baby was born, I fought to receive one of the baby kits made by the women here. The clothes that these women make are of good quality, made with good materials and in designs that I like. You want your new baby to be warm, especially in winter, and these kits really help with that.”

Those are the words of Manal. She is one of the 800 new mothers who received a newborn winter clothing kit, made by fellow Syrian refugee women in Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan.

The UNICEF supported Women’s Oasis initiative, employs around 40 Syrian refugee women across the camp, teaching skills and providing vital income for families – all while making life-saving winter clothing for at risk Syrian children.

1.3 million Syrian refugee children are in desperate need of clothing to protect them from the freezing cold winter temperatures. Because of donations to UNICEF and the work of these women, even the most vulnerable and hard to reach Syrian children can receive the life-saving support they so urgently need.

Baby winter clothing kits are made up of a baby carrier, blanket, nappy bag, two sets of pyjamas, socks, gloves and a jumper. They are all handmade by Syrian refugee women using sewing machines, tools and materials provided through the initiative.

Ikhlas is one of these women. With five children, she has lived in Zaatari Refugee Camp for six years and says that the job has helped her more psychologically than financially.

“It broke the routine that we have here. Before I was only staying inside the caravan, for three years I didn’t really go out or meet anyone. I was just focused on my children.

“When I applied, I wasn’t sure if I would get it as I only had basic experience of tailoring and some of the other women here had been tailors for their whole life. But I’m so happy I was accepted, my tailoring skills have improved so much but I also met friends who I now consider my family. I also feel that my personality has got stronger.

“Financially I’ve been able to help my family in more ways than I could imagine. Before there were so many needs that I wasn’t able to help them with.

“I haven’t bought anything for myself, just things for the caravan and the children. I fixed the roof and we didn’t have a gas cylinder, so I bought one, then I fixed the kitchen and bought more mattresses. Unless you have a job, there is no means of buying new ones.”

As Ikhlas explains that the money she earns from working at the Women’s Oasis is a huge boost for women at the refugee camp, Ramia, another one of the tailors, echoes her sentiments.

“You don’t feel that you are incapable when you get this money. You feel like you have the power to do whatever you want.”
Maysa, who was part of a previous year’s team explains how the project changed her life for the better.

“The work helps so much. It makes us happy. Before we were stuck not doing anything, but the job gave us freedom to do what we want and motivates us for the future. We became active, felt relaxed and happy.

“I managed to save some money through being part of the project and when I finished I bought my own sewing machine. Now I am running a small shop making clothes for friends, family and neighbours out of my home. Work here taught us not to depend on anyone else but ourselves.”

The Women’s Oasis employs women on a yearly basis and so a new cohort of women is selected each March. The women here have made friends for life, and even those who were part of previous years, like Maysa, often come back to visit.

UNICEF is proud to support the Women’s Oasis scheme. Not only is it helping to provide urgently needed winter clothing for Syrian children, but it is giving Syrian refugee women the skills and opportunities they need to build a better future for themselves and their families.

 

You can be part of this life-changing work for Syrian refugees by making a donation to our Syrian Winter Appeal.

Anything you can give will make a difference for vulnerable Syrian families.