Middle Eastern Refugee Quilts

Background

Background

Hard at work: Making squares at the Hope Workshop

The two quilts profiled in these pages are the product of the worst humanitarian crisis since World War 2. The embroidered squares were produced by twelve women in Jordan who were exposed to the full fury of war in Iraq, Syria and Palestine before deciding to seek refuge abroad. They brought with them memories of lost friends, destroyed homes and broken lives.

This quilting project has allowed the women to describe this grim experience through embroidery, and in the process build deep friendships. The result is a powerful testament to the horror or war, but also the resilience of refugees.

The quilting initiative was launched in early 2016 when The Advocacy Project formed a partnership with the Collateral Repair Project in Amman. CRP’s distinctive name is a rebuke to the fact that civilian casualties in war are often dismissed as “collateral damage,” and during several years of dedicated service CRP staff and volunteers in Amman have distributed relief supplies to thousands of refugees from conflict. The supplies include coats and fuel in the winter, fans in the summer, and food during Ramadan. CRP has also provided skills training for refugees, who are not allowed to work in the formal sector in Jordan.

Several of CRP’s beneficiaries have formed a cooperative, the Hope Workshop, to produce embroidery and other handicrafts and in 2016 AP deployed an experienced Peace Fellow, Allyson Hawkins from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, to volunteer at the Workshop. We suggested that Workshop members could use embroidery to describe their journey from war and twelve responded. They formed a project team under the guidance of Shatha, who managed the Workshop at the time.

The squares are laid out by the Quilters by the Sea guild in Middletown, Rhode Island.

Allyson described the process in her blogs, which make for a lively read. In one early blog she confessed that she felt unqualified to help, given that she did not have “an artistic bone in her body.” But the artists welcomed her advice and she was delighted to see how completely the Workshop members embraced the concept of advocacy quilting.

As in past quilt projects, AP did not suggest themes – that was left to the artists. The Hope Workshop artists decided to depict the horror and violence of the Middle East wars, particularly Syria. Their squares show bombs falling on playgrounds, homes destroyed, and boats that are crowded with refugees. The fact that this is all portrayed though exquisite craftsmanship makes it more poignant. Allyson’s blogs also make it clear that the project was collaborative and brought the artists together, particularly in the earlier stages. This is another benefit from advocacy quilting.

Allyson brought the squares back to the US in August 2016. They were then sent to a group of experienced quilters in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, who work within a guild (Quilters by the Sea). AP Board member Larry Ingeneri generously covered the cost of material. The quilters met at Larry’s home to decide on a design and assign the squares, and then then met regularly to produce two quilts. This was done by putting strips of fabric (known as sashing) around each bloc and attaching the blocks to backing. The two quilts were then sent to Allison Wilbur, a long-term AP partner and founder of Quilt for Change, to quilt within the squares and add more backing. Allison’s subtle patterns bring out the designs beautifully – some even seem to be floating.

Ruth Sears, left, led the team that assembled the two quilts; Allyson Wilbur completed the quilting

As in past quilt projects, the American quilters learned a great deal from working on this powerful material and we have captured some of their reactions in a short video. Ruth Sears, who led the quilting, sent a heartfelt note when it was over: “Thank you for this opportunity from my group of quilters, especially me. We were honored to find a way to highlight the beautiful work of these women. Each time we worked the conversation turned to their situation. Many thoughts and hopes of support for them.”

AP and CRP will now turn to exhibiting the quilts and advancing their message. Sadly, the timing could not be more appropriate and we are offering the quilts to refugee support groups, particularly on university campuses, who are seeking to better understand what it means to be a refugee. These pages are made to help. Allyson, our Peace Fellow, wrote the profiles and took the photos. Her complete set of photos can be found on the CRP Flickr library. We have used the first names and photos of the artists with their permission.

At some stage CRP and AP may offer one of these quilts for sale, and we will probably commission more embroidery from the Hope Workshop this summer. But for now our priority is to use this artwork to tell the story of what it means to be a refugee, and remind us all of the courage and skills that refugees bring to their new countries. The quilts are available to any advocate who shares our vision, particularly at universities. Contact us though the Collateral Repair Project or through AP.

I Am a Refugee

I Am a Refugee

The women profiled on this page are refugees from brutal war in Iraq, Syria and Palestine. During the summer of 2016, they chose to tell their harrowing story through 25 embroidered squares which have been assembled into two quilts by quilters in the US and are now being exhibited in the US. On this page we present profiles of the artists. Their squares are described on the following two pages. The profiles were written by Allyson Hawkins, who served as a Peace Fellow at The Collateral Repair Project in 2016.

 

“I remember the tombstones in Iraq”  

 

Suzanne came with her family to Jordan from Baghad in June 2015. Her daughter is sick, and Suzanne wanted to get her involved in some art-related activities, which she found at the Hope Workshop. Suzanne says before she joined the Workshop she was always home alone. She wanted something to do with her time and the Workshop has allowed her to be productive and use her embroidery skills. Embroidery also helps her to express her feelings. She has made many friends at the Workshop and treasures these new friendships.

Suzanne’s first piece shows her daughter in a field picking wild flowers in Iraq, something that she loved to do before the war began. But there is a plane overhead and the loud noise scared the child. She still cries when she hears the sound of planes.

Suzanne lost many family members, friends, and neighbors in the war and her second square recalls her home in Iraq. When she thinks of Iraq she remembers the nearby cemetery. The tombstones loom over her idyllic house.

Suzanne says that spending time with other women refugees, learning new skills, and being a member of the Hope collective gives her hope. She also wants her kids to be involved in the community and learn new skills like English, Arabic, and Math, particularly as they cannot attend school in Jordan.

                                          

 

“I studied engineering in Iraq and miss my tools” 

 

Roa’a came from Baghdad to Jordan with her father, mother, and two sisters in May of 2013. Her mother, Dhamya, was attending Hope Workshop meetings and when Roa’a heard about the embroidery project, she decided to join in. “I didn’t know how to do embroidery,” she says, “but I knew I could learn.”

Roa’a says that she has always been very shy but has gained confidence working on this project. “I became a leader and now I can help other women in the group to become leaders,” she says.

Roa’a’s first square shows a woman surrounded by several other figures that represent society, culture, and religion, and the different types of pressure that they place on women. Roa’a says that women are not permitted to express their true feelings. She wanted to highlight this struggle, which is particularly acute for refugees in a new country and culture.

Her second square shows Roa’a thinking about her engineering tools. Roa’a was studying engineering in Iraq when her family left and she had to say goodbye to her education. She thinks about this missed opportunity a lot because she is unable to pursue a university education in Jordan. Roa’a and her family are waiting to be re-settled in Australia where she hopes to complete her engineering studies.

After learning embroidery, Roa’a hopes to master crochet and get more involved at the CRP community center through training. She feels more hope for the future, and can see herself accomplishing many things. This comes from inside, but she is happy to have found an environment in the Hope Workshop that will build her confidence and teach new skills.

                                           

 

“I am proud of my faith. It has supported me as a refugee”

 

Dhamya came with her family to Jordan from Bagdhad in 2013. She remembers feeling afraid when she arrived. “It was a new society. Dealing with people was challenging,” she says. She heard about CRP from neighbors and began coming for English classes. She became more and more involved in CRP activities, first with gender training and then with Hope Workshop. “I started to love myself,” she says. She wanted to meet new people from different backgrounds and learn about different cultures.

When she first joined the Workshop, Dhamya only knew embroidery. She has since learned how to crochet and makes scarves and hats, which brings in a little income and relieves her stress. She has even persuaded her daughter to join.

Dhamya’s squares are a form of self-expression, with each color representing a different emotion. Her first square shows her praying to the cross. Dhamya and her family are Sabians, a small Christian sect primarily concentrated around Baghdad that has been particularly affected by violence since the 2003 Invasion. The yellow in her square represents hope. The X across Iraq signifies the destruction of her country. And yet, although Iraq might fall, Dhamya is sure her faith will survive. It has supported through her experience as a refugee in Jordan.

Dhamya’s second square depicts “a woman looking for freedom.” The woman’s legs are stitched together, and she cannot walk. Her hands are also shackled to show that she is powerless. The wings represent her desire for freedom. Dhamya’s dream is to travel, “but the wings won’t carry me anywhere despite the new strength I’ve found.”

Dhamya says that pressure on the outside can give you energy inside, and that the Hope Workshop offers her an outlet for her energy. Since joining the workshop, she says, she has also learned to become a better communicator. This makes family relationships (which are under a lot of stress due to their status as refugees) much easier. In site of this, Dhamya still fears for her family’s well being. She hopes to be re-settled with her family in Australia.

                                           

 

“We left behind death, blood and danger in Iraq”

 

Salima came to Jordan with her four sons from Baghdad in 2014. They were all scared, she says. Salima rented a small apartment in Hashemi Shemali, where she heard from neighbors about CRP. After some encouragement from Shatha, the coordinator of the Hope Workshop, Salima joined. She has been a valuable member ever since. “I love art,” Salima explains.

Her brother, an artist, taught her many different skills over the years and she now uses them in the Hope Workshop. Having the space to be creative and productive helps Salima fill her time. Before then she would stay home and kept busy through cooking and cleaning. Now, through the Hope Workshop, her time passes more quickly and she produces beautiful work to sell.

Her first design shows a burnt and broken Iraq, with people fleeing from the danger. Above it her children sit in a peaceful garden next to a map of Jordan surrounded by birds beneath the sun. Salima is contrasting the danger that forced her family to leave Iraq with the happiness, hope, and safety they feel in Jordan.

Salima’s second image shows refugees crossing a border as they leave Iraq and head towards the sun. Below the refugees she has stitched three words that describe the horror they are fleeing – “death, blood, danger.” In front of the refugees, and between the sunbeams, Salima has stitched the three things they hope to find – “hope, safety, freedom.”

Salima’s knowledge of art, and her passion to create, represent huge assets for the Hope Workshop. Her enthusiasm shines through in her work, undiminished by the challenges she has faced.

                                           

 

“I had to leave my sister behind”

 

Ikhlas arrived in Jordan, alone, after an incredible journey. She was living in Ramadi, Anbar province, Iraq, when militants entered her town and killed her cousin. Ikhlas and her neighbors were rounded up and taken to a large building but Ikhlas and her sister managed to escape. They were picked up by a kind stranger in a van who took them out to the desert, from where they made their way to Baghdad.

Ikhlas had been keeping her passport safe at a friend’s house in Bagdhad and as soon as they arrived she collected the passport and made arrangements to leave Iraq. But her sister had left her passport behind in Ramadi and was too afraid to return back. Ikhlas made the tough decision to leave Iraq without her sister, who still remains in Baghdad.

After she arrived, Ikhlas heard good things about the CRP community center from her neighbors, and decided to start taking English classes. She also attended a women’s leadership training, which encouraged her to join the Hope Workshop. “I like everything about the Workshop – particularly the way it has helped me to become more professional in communicating with others.” She enjoys interacting with people from different countries and cultures and is always busy with a project or activity. “I don’t feel lonely anymore.”

Ikhlas’s first square shows a map of Iraq with a plane above it. “I’m on the plane,” she explains. “I’m saying goodbye to family members, including my sister, who I had to leave behind.” Her second square shows Ikhlas and her sister embracing in the garden of her sister’s house in Ramadi, where they once lived. “I still talk to my sister everyday,” says Ikhlas. “But it is not the same as having her here.”

Ikhlas says that “everything positive in my life comes from CRP,” and she spends her time at the center trying to forget her problems. But she still wants to travel far away so that she can feel completely safe.

                                          

 

“After the bombing, I saw I was in immediate danger”

 

Amal traveled to Jordan from Dara’a, Syria in April 2012 with with her mother and sister. Her husband and children had left earlier and she had hoped to follow them, but the violence in Dara’a prevented them from traveling. As a result, Amal was separated from her husband and children for two years.

When the three women finally attempted their journey to Jordan, her mother and sister were denied entry due to incorrect paperwork. Amal continued her journey alone, hoping to be reunited with her children.

Amal has always loved handicrafts, and decided to join when she heard of the Hope Workshop. Since becoming a member, Amal has become stronger, gained confidence and learned cooperation skills.

Amal’s first design shows her house in flames in Dara’a. Amal and her brother were at home one day when a plane flew overhead and dropped bombs, destroying her home and injuring her brother. Amal realized she was in immediate danger and decided to leave. Her family has moved to nearby village which seems less exposed.

Amal’s house used to look down over a playground and her second square recalls a truly traumatic incident when a plane flew over and dropped bombs on the playground, killing all the kids. A beautiful view she once enjoyed is now a terrible memory.

Amal’s name means hope in Arabic and she says that this precisely what she now feels. CRP is the only group that has given her assistance and made her feel she has a future. She is overjoyed to be a part of such a generous and tightly knit community.

                                            

 

“Some people have drowned while trying to escape”

 

Soltana’s family came to Jordan after the 1967 War. Her roots are in Yaffa and Gaza. She feels sad that the Palestinians who live in Gaza today are trapped and do not have the same opportunity to flee danger.

Soltana learned about CRP through her neighbors. As a Palestinian refugee living in Amman, Soltana decided to get involved. She wanted to meet other women from Iraq and Syria who have gone through a similar experience and she thought that the Workshop would be a great outlet for building new friendships. “They’ve experienced the same misery as the Palestinians,” she says.

Before the Workshop, Soltana was shy. She now loves meeting new people: “I have become more outgoing and confident. I can express my feelings better.”

Soltana’s first square shows people fleeing Gaza by sea. Some people have drowned trying to escape. Others are unable to leave and remain in danger, like the man in a wheelchair. Her second square shows people fleeing from the war in Gaza. They have left their homes for tents in the desert. The women are carrying their belongings on top of their heads.

The Hope Workshop allows Soltana to share these and other stories with her new friends from Syria and Iraq. These cross-cultural friendships give her hope for a brighter future.

                                       

 

“We heard terrifying stories of refugees drowning and of crime”

 

Fakhriaya arrived in Jordan in February Fakhriaya_2015 with her daughter, Aftab. Aftab was standing outside the CRP community center when she overheard a conversation between Shatha, the Hope Workshop coordinator, and a group of women. Aftab was interested, and thought her mother would be too. She brought Fakhriaya to a Hope Workshop meeting. The two have been members ever since.

Fakhriaya used to make embroidered dresses for her daughter when they lived in Baghdad. “I love embroidery. It feels good to pick up old hobbies in a new place,” she says. She was in a bad way when she arrived in Jordan and recalls that “during the war in Iraq, there was no milk, no bread, our beds were on the floor.” But now she is self-reliant and can support her daughter.

Fakhriaya’s first square shows refugees who are attempting to reach Turkey by sea. After arriving to Jordan, Fakhriaya had hoped to find a smuggler who would take her and her daughter to Turkey but she began to read terrifying stories of failed crossing attempts, high drowning rates and crime along the way. She was deeply affected and decided to remain and make a start fresh in Amman.

Fakriaya’s second design is more abstract. It depicts the flight of Sabians, a small Christian sect, out of Iraq. The roots represent her Sabian religion, which once flourished in Iraq, while each branch represents a place where Sabian refugees hope to live – Jordan, the United State and Australia. Whole families leave for one country and then branch out and become further separated, as represented by the small twigs at the end of each branch. The number of Sabians in Iraq has fallen sharply because so many have fled from the country Fakhriaya once called home.

Being in Jordan gives Fakhriaya hope. “Here, we live in peace,” she says. She is no longer afraid for herself and her daughter.

                                  _Fakhriaya_quilt1       Fakhriaya2

 

“I have an engineering degree but cannot use it in Jordan”

 

Aftab came to Jordan from Iraq with herAftab mother Fakhriaya in 2015 and discovered the Hope Workshop after overhearing a conversation between Shatha, the Workshop coordinator and a group of women. She was looking for company and did not want to remain at home, so she signed up.“ I like to talk a lot and working together with others has helped me become a better listener and communicator,” she says.

Since joining the Workshop Aftab has learned about cooperation and making handicrafts. She is particularly talented at embroidery and her first design shows a tent made from an Iraqi flag. She chose this design because it depicts the reality for the many Iraqis who are refugees. Aftab explains that the people of Iraq are looking for peace, but are unable to find it in their homeland.

Aftab’s second square shows a woman traveling with a bag. A plane is flying overhead. The woman is Aftab and she wants to travel west to find work. Aftab completed an engineering degree in Iraq, but is unable to put it to use in Jordan. She wants to work and to be able to support her family.

It gives Aftab hope to meet new people and build new relationships at CRP. She is encouraged when she sees people smile, and has a strong sense of belonging. She also feels less lonely.

                                     Aftab1      Aftab2

 

“Childhood in Iraq is dead”

 

Ikhlas came to Jordan from Baghdad withIkhlasK her father and sister in June 2015. Once in Amman, she reunited with sister who had already settled in Jordan and put her in touch with CRP.

The first day Ikhlas came to the center, she met Shatha, the Hope Workshop coordinator, and felt immediately comfortable talking with her. “The stress of being a refugee melted away. When I’m at CRP I feel comfortable.”

Ikhlas is an enthusiastic participant in all the CRP activities. She loves handicrafts, and particularly enjoyed the embroidery project because it draws on real life. “It’s a chance to share our experiences with others,” she says.

Ikhlas was a lawyer in Iraq. She loves her profession, and says the Hope Workshop gives all the women the opportunity to talk about their old lives, their professions, and their studies in a safe and encouraging way. A passionate defender of human rights, Ikhlas says that the protection afforded to Iraqi citizens by law “only exists on paper” and does not translate to real life.

This is particularly true for children. Ikhlas’s first design shows a book of children’s rights covered in blood with a child’s shoe on its top. “Children in Iraq have legal rights,” she says. But “the world forces them into adulthood. Childhood in Iraq is dead.”

Ikhlas’ second picture shows a dove of peace that is barred from flying by a black wall. The dove represents human rights and the wall represents the lack of humanity in Iraq.

Since coming to Jordan Ikhlas has felt safe, happy, and full of hope. Here she can live in peace and leave her home without fear. Still, she says, “Jordan is a station – a stop on my way to another country.”

                                     IkhlasK_1      IkhlasK_2

 

“A piece of my heart is still in Syria”

 

Nafiza has asked that we do not show her face, so we show her hands at work on her embroidery.

Before Nafiza came to Jordan in August 2012 she had lived a peaceful life in the countryside outside Damascus with her family. They had to flee when the area became too dangerous.

They traveled to Irbid first but her husband was unable to find work. They then moved to Sahab, where her husband found modest work in a mattress factory. However, he became sick and could no longer work. It was then that they made the move to Amman, hoping to better support the family.

In Amman, they reunited with a friend they had known in Syria who now worked at CRP. He connected Nafiza to the CRP community center where she learned about the Hope Workshop. Nafiza brought some of her previous embroidery and crochet work with her to a Workshop meeting and was immediately welcomed as a new member. She has attended several gender trainings and become very interested in gender and relationships.

Nafiza’s first picture is of a dove. She says the dove represents the promises of Bashar al-Assad, who told the people he would build peace in Syria but brought bombs not peace. The branch carries the letters TNT. Nafiza’s second square  depicts Syria and Jordan. Her heart is stretched across both countries, because she left many family members and friends behind and her thoughts are still with them. A big piece of her heart remains in Syria.

Nafiza’s family has a different status from the families of the other women because her husband has Jordanian as well as Syrian nationality. But Nafiza is the only member of her immediate family who is registered with UNHCR. This adds to her sense of being stuck between Syria and Jordan.

Before joining Hope Workshop, Nafiza said she felt “helpless and weak.” But now, participating in the activities with other women has made her feel stronger. She fervently hopes that her family can become more integrated and forget the heartache they experienced in Syria.

                                           

 

“It’s hard to explain what the war did to me…”

 

Sena arrived in Jordan in 2014, with the remaining members of her family after her only son was tortured and killed by government military forces. Sena’s husband was also snatched off the street on his way from work one day. He was also tortured and imprisoned. She remembers crying all the time after her son died, she couldn’t eat or sleep. She was afraid to go out, so she had no choice but to stay at home and wait for her husband to return. After he was released, Sena decided to leave Syria. She moved from one place to the next, but she still remembers the sounds of gunfire, bombs and seeing dead bodies on the streets, “It’s hard to explain what the war did to me, psychologically. I was in a really bad place.”

Before she joined the embroidery group six months ago, Sena was unhappy and depressed. She explains that she spent most of her time at home alone with nothing to do, but since joining Hope Workshop her mental health has improved, “[..]the group supports me, it gives me psychological support. I’m happy to meet new people, but now I see a big difference.” She has also developed her technique and drawing skills.

Sena is talented in embroidery and learned to stitch from her mother and grandmother. She used to embroider on clothes and scarves for people back home in Syria. She says that stitching allows her to tell her story, and she is able to pour everything she feels into it. She chose to draw a prison in Syria reflecting on the pain of losing her son. Sena also explains that her life resembles a prison, “I feel like my life is a prison because I can’t go anyway. I can’t visit my son’s grave or be with the people I love. I feel like my life is a trap. I am trapped.” Sena’s second square is a map of the world with Syria at the center. She explains that even though she has lost everything, she hopes one day that she can return to a new Syria, ‘the sun is shining on Syria. The sun is a good sign because it means that there’s still hope,” she says

                                     

 

“…I can put all my sorrow and pain into the square. It’s like the pain is leaving my body.”

 

Farah was a housewife and always made sure to provide the best life for her four children. In 2015, Farah left Syria with her two daughters and husband with nothing but the clothes on her back. She remembers bombs going off near her house, “I feared for my family and their safety. I was afraid one day my sons and husband wouldn’t come home,” so that’s why she had to leave. She tells the story of what it felt like going from city to city until they reached the Jordanian border. She shows me a picture of how she looked like before the war started, and she points to it, “[…] see how young I look and look at me now. Every time I talked to my friends and family back home, they say that I look old and that I don’t look beautiful anymore,” and she starts crying.

She joined the embroidery group five months ago. Before she was always at home in the dark alone with her thoughts. Since she joined the group she felt like she had achieved something meaningful, “I like the idea of drawing and expressing my feelings. It has helped me in many different ways, like I can put all my sorrow and pain into the square. It’s like the pain is leaving my body.” It made her useful and allowed her to focus on something then just staying at home.

Farah learned how to stitch from her mother. She would embroider on dresses for children. She didn’t know how to do complicated stitches like the Jordanian stitch when she first joined the group, but she enjoys it now. She loves designing and wants to learn to stitch more beautiful patterns.

The first square she drew reflects on her hometown being destroyed by bombs. She watched as bombs were dropped on their neighbors, “It was a horrible thing to watch, and I saw it with my own eyes.” The second square is what she continues to hope and dream about everyday since the start of the war. She’s just arrived at the Damascus airport after spending many years in a different country, “It’s a dream of mine to return to Syria, I can never put it out of my mind.” She hopes that she can improve her skill so she can sell products at bazaars in Amman. Farah did not want her photo taken.

                                                        

 

“I love to challenge myself and learn new things that I haven’t tried before in Iraq.”

 

Salma is a Christian from the city of Qaraqosh near Mosul, Iraq. She played on the national women’s football team for three years. She also played in Germany, but returned to Iraq to get married. She was studying to become a beautician when ISIS attacked her town forcing her family to flee to avoid persecution. She lived in Irbid for a short period of time before relocating to Jordan in 2015. She is a practicing Christian and attends church in Jordan with her family. She also spends her time there learning different craft skills, which she enjoys, “I love to challenge myself and learn new things that I haven’t tried before in Iraq.” In her free time, Salma make clothes for her newborn son.

She embroiders on quilts and makes traditional Iraqi clothing. When she was just a child her mother gave her a piece of fabric and told her to embroidery, “she just gave me the fabric and told me to go stitch!” She uses traditional bright colours because it makes all the beautiful details of Iraqi stitch stand out. She founds the Jordanian stitch beautiful and hard, but is determined to perfect it, “I still want to learn about to make clean lines on the back of the stitch. I still can’t do that.” If she is resettled in Canada or Australia, she wants to get her beautician certification and open her own salon.

                                           

 

“I feel like I lost myself taking care my family. I cannot live the life I want.”

 

Fatema is from Al Quds, Palestine and has lived in Jordan for nearly 20 years as a refugee. She had a good childhood, she always played outside and just enjoyed being a child, but she is now taking care of her family because they are all sick. She never had the opportunity to go to school, “I feel like I lost myself taking care my family. I cannot live the life I want.” Fatema suffers from depression and anxiety, but joined the embroidery group to take a break from taking care of her family, and make new friends. She also takes part in different activities at CRP, such as acupuncture. Fatema had no formal training and learned the Iraqi stitch from Huda, a trainer in the embroidery group.

 

                                           

                                                                     

…she was threatened by ISIS for being a non-practising Muslim and not wearing a headscarf. 

 

Sabeen is from Mosul, Iraq and for 26 years she worked as a baker in a restaurant. She made bread, pastries and other traditional Iraqi sweets, and spent the rest of her time taking care of her family. She has a daughter who still lives in Iraq studying at university. She fled Qaraqosh with her husband when she was threatened by ISIS for being a non-practising Muslim and not wearing a headscarf.

She moved from city to city trying to escape ISIS with husband, and she was forced to leave her daughter behind in Irbid. She is now taking care of her disabled husband and grandson. She also has a hard time finding work to pay for her husband’s medical bills.

Sabeen joined the embroidery group in a four months ago, she is eager to learn the Jordanian stitch in the next few months. Sabeen’s first drawing is an image of her daughter standing outside the Iraqi airport. She left her daughter behind in Iraq and is hoping to reunite with her one day. She hopes to be resettled in France or anywhere else. She doesn’t have family outside of Iraq, but only wants to feel safe once again.

 

Marwa likes to embroidery so she joined the workshop.

 

Marwaleft Iraq seven months ago to escape the violence. She was a housewife in Iraq and spent the rest of the time caring for her children. She didn’t lose anyone in her immediate family, but she lost her house and her husband could no longer work. She arrived in Jordan with nothing but one bag in her hand. Marwa did not want to go into details about her experience because she said it was too painful for her to talk about it.

Marwa likes to embroidery so she joined the workshop. It was one of her hobbies and she learned how to stitch in Iraq when she was younger. She wants to resettle in Australia and live with her daughter who is expecting her first child.       

                                       

 

“…they are my family away from home.”

 

Mina worked in a salon in Iraq for 7 years before she was forced to flee Iraq. She had to leave her friends behind in her hometown of Qaraqosh. She relocated to Jordan with her husband and four children, and works in a salon to support her family. She taught herself how to embroidery at a young age, and encouraged her children to learn as well. She enjoys coming to the embroidery workshop because of the friendship and company, “[…] they are my family away from home.”

Mina hopes to resettle in Australia with her family. She also wants to open a salon and in her free time continue embroidering because it gives her a sense of peace, and she says it’s very relaxing.

                                           

 

“I want to be legal person [resident] and not a refugee anymore.”

 

Noor was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq. She worked as a nurse in a hospital, and her husband is a doctor. She loved her job and co-workers, “When they take photos they always send me a text message saying, ‘We wish you were here, we saved a space for you in the photo.” She stayed in Iraq during the war to take care of her sick father-in-law, and left when he died. Ranaya’s house was burned down and she was not allowed to return to Qaraqosh, so she left Iraq with her husband, “There was not future in Iraq. It was not safe for us anymore.”

She came to CRP a year ago and joined the embroidery workshop last summer. She had no idea how to embroider, but learned it from one of the other members in the group. Noor hates being labelled as a refugee, and living like one in Jordan, “I want to be legal person [resident] and not a refugee anymore.” If she is given a chance she wants to work as a nurse again, but she also wants to own her own house and wants everyone she loves all in one place.

                                           

 

“In Australia, they could go to school and be free.”

 

Originally, Ashwaq’s parents came to Jordan. Once they left, she began to question what she even had in Iraq. They told her that her children would not be bothered the way they were in Iraq and that life was nicer in Amman. They felt safe. Ashwaq told her husband she had made up her mind; she would go to Jordan with or without him. But he felt that they didn’t have a community left in Iraq, so he decided to come with her. Ashwaq’s parents were resettled in Australia two or three months after she arrived in Amman. At first, she was sad that they had convinced her to come and then left, but she is happy they can relax now. Overall, Amman is better. There is safety and security that Ashwaq and her family didn’t have in Iraq. She says she can dress how she likes and so can her children. However, her husband left his work behind in Iraq and Jordanian law doesn’t allow Iraqis to work. He tried to find work anyway, but he couldn’t. Ashwaq and her husband applied to go to Australia to be with her parents but they were rejected. They are trying again because she doesn’t know anyone else in Canada or Europe, where the UN suggested they try. It’s not just her parents there; she has uncles and cousins in Australia also. There is a big community of Sabaeans where her parents live. “Here, we celebrate holidays at home. We don’t have family to visit, but in Australia we could go celebrate with family,” Ashwaq elaborates. Ashwaq’s children have a hard time with school here in Amman. They started, but she was scared for them so she pulled them out. She put them in the Kids Club at CRP, but her older son doesn’t want to be with the younger kids. He says he wants to go to real school with students his own age. She says she would be thrilled for her children if they were resettled in Australia because they did not have a real childhood. “In Australia, they could go to school and be free.

                                           

 

“Notice us. Let us in. If we go back to Iraq, they’ll kill us.”

 

Ebtisam recalls, “We fled Daesh 7 minutes to midnight. We went to Anqawa.” She and her family stayed in Anqawa for almost a month before she came to Amman. She says she is waiting to be resettled as her house in Iraq has been looted and vandalized. She has been in Amman with her husband and her unmarried son for 3 years. The rest of her family is split up all over the world. She has a son in Germany with two daughters. She has a daughter in France who has two children and another daughter who was recently resettled in Australia with her two kids. She’s never met her son’s children, as he has been in Germany for 6 years. Ebtisam hopes to be resettled in Australia to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren, or Canada, from which it will be easier for her to visit her family, but hasn’t heard back from either about her application. She began her application to go to Australia nearly two years ago and never received word about an interview with the Canadian resettlement agency. Ebtisam says that her family is tired down to their bones. When asked to directly address the west, she implored, “Notice us. Let us in. If we go back to Iraq, they’ll kill us.”

                                           

 

 
Fortunately, he survived. 

 

Hanadi is from Iraq. She fled her home when Daesh arrived, staying temporarily in another Iraqi town for a few days. She thought she may be able to return home, but realized that wasn’t possible. Then, she and her family went to Irbil. When they arrived there, they were sleeping outside in the streets. One of her daughters had a newborn son, only 3 days old during this whole ordeal. Hanadi said that she and her daughter cried constantly, imagining that the baby might die. Fortunately, he survived. From Irbil, they traveled to Shaqlawa, Iraq where they stayed for 10 months. They were brought caravans, where they lived for a year and a half. Hanadi returned to her home to find that it had been ransacked, as were the other homes in the area. She felt there wasn’t anything left for them there and she and her family left for Jordan.

                                           

 

“Anywhere that we could be accepted, we would have relatives that we don’t have here”

 

Haneen was a teacher in Iraq. She decided to leave when she saw the state of her country and her students deteriorating. They originally wanted to come to Jordan, but it was deemed too hard. Turkey’s process was faster, so she and her family headed there. Haneen said it was difficult to send her children to school because it was all in Turkish. She had a difficult stay in Jordan, where she didn’t have any relatives in Turkey and the language was so hard. Despite the hardship, they stayed there a year and 10 months, but eventually, they came to Jordan. Here in Jordan is still hard because they don’t have work. Neither Haneen nor her husband can support the family without work, but luckily, she enrolled her children in the kids’ programs at CRP. They want to be resettled anywhere that will take them. Haneen’s sister was accepted into Australia in 2016 and her husband’s brother has been in America since 2015. She has siblings in Sweden as well.  “Anywhere that we could be accepted, we would have relatives that we don’t have here,” says Haneen.

                                           

 

“I started to love myself”

 

From 2016: Huda came with her family to Jordan from Baghdad in 2013. She remembers feeling afraid when she arrived. “It was a new society. Dealing with people was challenging,” she says. She heard about CRP from neighbors and began coming for English classes. She became more and more involved in CRP activities, first with gender training and then with Hope Workshop. “I started to love myself,” she says. She wanted to meet new people from different backgrounds and learn about different cultures. When she first joined the Workshop, Huda only knew embroidery. She has since learned how to crochet and makes scarves and hats, which brings in a little income and relieves her stress. She has even persuaded her daughter to join. Huda says that pressure on the outside can give you energy inside and that the Hope Workshop offers her an outlet for her energy. Since joining the workshop, she says, she has also learned to become a better communicator. This makes family relationships (which are under a lot of stress due to their status as refugees) much easier. Despite this, Huda still fears for her family’s well-being. She hopes to be re-settled with her family in Australia.

Update in 2017: Huda is still very involved at CRP, attending classes and coming to Hope Workshop. Her daughter has since become one of the leaders of the card group and Huda was chosen as one of the leaders for the newly-formed embroidery group. During embroidery training, Huda shared her positive experiences at the Hope Workshop and CRP with the new women, saying that it has become a second home to her. Huda recalls life before the Hope Workshop, “I never left my house. I would cry daily.” Once she began getting involved with the Hope Workshop, she gained confidence and new friends from different backgrounds. Huda and her family still long to be resettled in Australia, where they can work and support themselves.

                                           

 

“We went to Aqrah, we weren’t relaxed. We went to Irbil, we weren’t relaxed. We left to Amman and it’s the same thing.”

 

Jenan is from Mosul. She says everyone from there has the same story. They fled from Daesh on August 6th, 2014. The first thing they did when they left was go to Aqrah, Iraq in Kurdistan. Jenan has 8 children, 5 girls and 3 boys. She recounts that the children got bored in Aqrah. They were used to going out and socializing or going to church. They eventually moved to Irbil and the family knew everyone in the community, in the churches. Jenan and her family rented a house there and waited for Daesh to leave Mosul. She went back and saw her area and it was unlivable. Daesh had sacked and destroyed homes, so they went to Amman. She feels as though she can’t relax because she isn’t at home. She elaborates, “We went to Aqrah, we weren’t relaxed. We went to Irbil, we weren’t relaxed. We left to Amman and it’s the same thing.” There is no work and the rent is very high according to Jenan.  When you don’t have a job, everything seems expensive she says. Jenan pleads, “We are asking God to make this easier on us, those who left before us, and those who left after us. We hope those who want to be resettled get resettled and those who want to return can return. I just want to repeat, we weren’t at ease there and we’re not at ease here.”

                                           

 


“We are tired of paying rent with money we don’t have.”

 

Safa is from Iraq. When she got married, she moved to Basra. However, it became dangerous during the war with Iran and her parents moved to Qaraqosh, near Mosul. Safa’ and her family stayed in Basra until 2003, when it became too dangerous during the American invasion. They went to Qaraqosh and stayed with her in-laws until they could find a house of their own. They lived in two rooms at her in-laws’ house for 6 years. This really tired them out, but they were thankful for a place to stay. Eventually, Safa’s house in Basra sold and they were able to move into a house in Qaraqosh. They lived in that house for 4 years, during which time her son and daughter both got married. Then, Daesh came. They fled in their pajamas to Irbil. Eventually, Safa’ and her family arrived in Jordan. She says, “We are tired of paying rent with money we don’t have. We sold our cars, our gold, and everything we had, but the money has run out.” Safa’ is happy because her son was given the opportunity to be resettled with his family in Australia. Her daughter just received her visa and will travel to be with them soon. However, the news is not all good. Safa’ and her husband were rejected when they applied to go to Australia. They are trying again and are relying on the good nature of the Australian people to accept them. Safa’ says, “We can’t handle it anymore. My husband and I aren’t young and we are sick. We can’t return home, so let us go to our children.”

                                           

 

“God willing, we will get accepted.”

 

Wee’m was a teacher from Al Amarah, Iraq. Her family got tired of the violence, so they decided to leave. They went to Baghdad, where they stayed for a while before coming to Jordan in 2016. “Thank God, we can feel more relaxed here,” says Wee’m. However, in terms of jobs she is just sitting and waiting. She can’t work, which is hard because her mom is sick. Wee’m doesn’t receive any aid to pay for her mother’s medications and she is getting worse. She hasn’t been able to get up for the past 10 days, which has left Wee’m very nervous. Plus, her younger brother is a young kid and she worries about him. She doesn’t like to have him out of the house too much. Wee’m is happy to start at the Hope Workshop because she has sewn her whole life and hopes to help her family. She has relatives in Australia and has begun the resettlement process. “God willing, we will get accepted.”

                                           

 

 

 

First Quilt

First Quilt

Quilt 1

 

Quilt 1-1Assad Brought Bombs, Not Peace: This design, by Nafiza, argues that many refugees feel betrayed by Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad who told his people that he would build peace in Syria. The square shows a dove carrying a branch. Instead of peace the dove is bringing war: bombs hang from the branch of a tree and carry the letters “TNT.”

 

Quilt 1-2Remembering the Sister I Left Behind: In this square Ikhlas remembers her sister, who was unable to leave with Ikhlas from Ramadi, Iraq, when she fled for Jordan. The picture shows Ikhlas and her sister embracing in the garden of her sister’s house, underscoring the closeness of their relationship and the loss that Ikhlas feels at having left family members behind. “I still talk to my sister everyday,” she says. “But it’s not the same as having her here.”

 

Quilt 1-3They Came For Me at Night: This design, by Wa’ad, recalls a terrifying event that happened in Iraq in 2014. Wa’ad lived alone in Baghdad and one night militiamen came to her house and beat her. They all wore all black, and she could only see their eyes. Wa’ad left for Jordan soon afterwards, on January 1, 2015, two days after her birthday.

 

Quilt 1-4Remembering Friends Who Died in Iraq: Suzanne’s square commemorates the many friends and neighbors she lost in Iraq before she decided to seek refugee and safety in Jordan. Some of her friends are buried in the nearby cemetery, which is pictured here with the tombstones looming over Suzanne’s house and garden.

 

Quilt 1-5Frightened by the Planes: Suzanne lived in Baghdad before fleeing to Jordan in June 2015. One of her strongest memories is of her daughter picking wild flowers in a field before the war. Then the planes began to come and Suzanne’s daughter took fright at the loud noise. The child still cries when she hears the sound of planes overhead.

 

Quilt 1-6Women Fleeing from Gaza: Soltana’s roots are in Yaffa and Gaza, Palestine and her family came to Jordan after the 1967 War. Nowadays the people of Gaza are trapped and unable to escape, says Soltana. Her picture shows families trying to leave the fighting in Gaza for tents in the desert. Women carry their belongings on their heads.

 

Quilt 1-7Destroyed by Planes: In this picture, Amal remembers the day that her house in Dara’a, Syria, was bombed and destroyed by planes in April 2012. Amal and her brother were at home when it happened, and her brother was seriously injured. The attack convinced Amal that it was time to leave for Jordan. The other members of her family, who lived nearby at the time of the attack, have all moved to a safer village.

 

Quilt 1-8Refugees Flee by Boat: Fakhriaya’s design shows refugees trying to get to Turkey by boat. When Fakhriaya left Iraq she had planned to find a smuggler to take her and her daughter to Turkey. But then she began hearing frightening stories about failed crossing attempts, drownings and crime along the route. This convinced her to remain in Jordan and start a new life in Amman. She has great sympathy for families that have lost their lives at sea.

 

Quilt 1-9So Sad – Two Words Sum It All Up: The artist of this square chose to remain anonymous. Her square shows a young refugee thinking back to his time in Iraq and carries the poignant message – “So Sad!”

 

Quilt 1-10Saying Goodbye to My Family: Ikhlas fled on her own from Ramadi, in Anbar province, Iraq to Jordan. In this square she remembers leaving her family. The square shows a map of Iraq with a plane above. Ikhlas is on the plane saying goodbye to family members, including her sister, who she left behind in Iraq.

 

Quilt 1-11My Life Before and After: Wa’ad’s picture draws a contrast between her happy life back in Iraq and her life as a refugee in Jordan. It shows the house she left behind in Baghdad, with its beautiful garden. Cutting through this image is a fence, which represents the border between Iraq and Jordan. On the lower side a tent symbolizes the temporary house that Wa’ad rents in Amman.

 

Quilt 1-12Women Refugees Under Pressure: This design by Roa’a shows a woman surrounded by several other figures who represent society, culture, and religion, and the different types of pressure that these institutions exert over women’s lives. Roa’a says women constantly feel the eyes of others on them but are often not permitted to express their true feelings and thoughts because of this pressure. She wanted to highlight this struggle, which is particularly acute for refugees in a new country and culture.

 

Second Quilt

Second Quilt

Quilt 2

 

Quilt 2-1The Dove of Peace Has No Place in Iraq: This design by Ikhlas shows a dove of peace that is blocked and broken by a black wall. The dove represents human rights and the wall represents the lack of humanity in Iraq. Injustice and violence prevent the dove from doing its work, says Ikhlas.

 

Quilt 2-2What I Miss About Home – Baking Bread: This square was made by an artist from the Home Workshop who has withheld her name. She is remembering the way she used to bake bread in a traditional oven – one of the things she misses most about her old home in Syria, before she became a refugee.

 

Quilt 2-3On the Road to Hope: Salima’s image shows a road out of Iraq. Refugees are leaving through a border crossing and heading towards the sun. Below the refugees Salima has stitched words that sum up the horrors that they are fleeing from: “Death, blood, and danger.” In front of the refugees, and between the sunbeams, Salima has stitched their goals and dreams for their future: “Hope, safety, freedom.”

 

Quilt 2-4Childhood in Iraq is Dead: Ikhlas is a passionate defender of human rights, and she complains that protections afforded to Iraqis by law “exist only on paper and do not translate into real life.” This is particularly true for children. Her design shows a book of children’s rights, covered in blood. The shoe of a child is left behind on top of the book. “Children in Iraq have legal rights,” Ikhlas says, but “the world forces them into adulthood. Childhood in Iraq is dead.” Many kids are on the streets instead of in schools, and they are being exploited at work because their families depend on them to supplement the family income.

 

Quilt 2-5In Hope of a Better Future: In this design, Aftab imagines herself packed and ready to leave. The plane overhead symbolizes her desire to travel west and find opportunities for work. In Iraq, Aftab completed an engineering degree, but she is unable to put it to use in Jordan. Aftab desperately hopes to get a job in her field one day and support her family.

 

Quilt 2-6They Even Bomb the Playgrounds: The artist who made this square, Amal, used to live near a playground in Baghdad before she left for Jordan. Amal was watching the children at play one day when a plane flew overhead and dropped bombs on the playground. All of the children on the playground were killed. For Amal, a beautiful view became a terrible memory.

 

Quilt 2-7Religion Carries Me As a Refugee: Dhamya’s pictures are an important form of self-expression and the colors represent different emotions. This square shows her praying to the cross. Dhamya and her family are Sabians, a small Christian sect primarily concentrated around Baghdad, who have been particularly vulnerable to violence since the 2003 Invasion. The yellow in her picture represents hope, while the X that runs across Iraq represents the destruction of her country. Iraq might fall, she says, but her faith will survive. Dhamya is very proud of her faith, which has given her strength during her time as a refugee in Jordan.

 

Quilt 2-8We are Happy to Have Escaped the Danger: Salima’s design shows a burnt and broken Iraq, with people fleeing from the danger. At the top left Selima has stitched a map of Jordan. Her children sit beside the map in a peaceful garden surrounded by birds beneath the sun. At the bottom, refugees are fleeing the violence in Iraq. Selima is seeking to contrast the danger they left behind in Iraq with the happiness, hope, and safety they feel in Jordan.

 

Quilt 2-9I Left My Heart in Syria: Nafiza lived peacefully in the countryside outside Damascus before she left for Jordan in 2012 and her square shows that she has not forgotten her home country. It depicts the countries of Syria and Jordan. Nafiza’s heart is stretched across both, although more than half is still in Syria. Nafiza left many family members and friends behind. While she is physically safe in Jordan, her heart, mind, and emotions remain in Syria with the family, friends, and land that she left behind.

 

Quilt 2-10Trapped in Gaza: Soltana’s family came from Palestine to Jordan after the 1967 War but she is well aware that Palestinians who live in Gaza today are trapped and do not have the opportunity to flee from danger. Soltana’s image shows people fleeing Gaza by sea. Some people, she explains, have drowned trying to escape. Others, such as the man seen in a wheelchair, are unable to leave and have to remain in danger.

 

Quilt 2-11The Fragmentation of a Religion: This square by Fakhriaya depicts the flight of Sabians, a small Christian sect, from Iraq. The roots represent the religion, which once flourished in Iraq. But Sabians have left Iraq in large numbers and each branch of the tree represents a different destination: Jordan, the United States, Australia. Whole families leave for one country then branch out and become further separated, as shown by the small twigs at the end of each branch. Meanwhile fewer and fewer Sabians live in Iraq itself.

 

Quilt 2-12Refugees Have Useful Skills! Roa’a’s design shows Roa’a thinking about the engineering tools that she left behind in Iraq. Roa’a was studying engineering in Iraq when her family decided to leave, and Roa’a had to leave her education behind. She thinks about this missed opportunity a lot because in Jordan she is unable to pursue a university education. Roa’a and her family are waiting to be re-settled in Australia where she hopes to be able to complete her engineering studies.

 

Quilt 2-13Thinking of Home in Iraq, by an artist who wished to stay anonymous.

 

Quilt 2-14I Yearn To Fly but My Wings Won’t Carry Me: Dhamya’s design shows “a woman seeking freedom.” She explains that the woman’s legs are stitched together, so she cannot walk. The woman’s hands are also shackled together, to show that she is powerless to help herself. The woman’s wings represent her yearning for freedom. Dhamya also dreams of traveling but “my wings won’t carry me anywhere despite the strength I’ve found.”

 

Quilt 2-15The Home of the Refugee – a Tent: Aftab came to Jordan from Iraq with her mother in 2015. Her design shows a tent made from an Iraqi flag. For Aftab, the tent symbolizes the reality for many Iraqi refugees. Inside the tent is a map of Iraq. Aftab says that the people of Iraq are looking for peace, but are unable to find it in their homeland.

 

Third Quilt

Third Quilt

Quilt 2

We were terrified that they (ISIS) would come back for us, so we hid and didn’t leave the house, but after a few days hiding from them, they attacked us. They threatened my family and warned us that if we didn’t leave they would come back and kill us. We left because we had no choice.

 

 

My second drawing represents a beautiful church. ISIS bombed and damaged the church. This caused me a lot of grief and pain because I loved it. It was such a beautiful church.

This is what Syria looks like in the building with plants, flowers, and trees. I want the stability and happiness back again. This is what I hope for my children and family.

This drawing reflects the most terrifying event that happened in during the month of Muharram in southern Iraq. It is a religious ritual where people wear black clothes for forty days. They all beat their heads and even their children until they bleed. I feared for my children so we stayed at home.

 I will never forget the day my house caught on fire. I remember dropping to my knees screaming and crying and there was nothing I could do but watch it burn to the ground.

 

 

 

 I hope one day I could visit the cemetery with my husband. Last this year we lost my father and my father-in-law. We couldn’t visit and pray for them because ISIS threatened us. We were afraid to go back to the cemetery because they didn’t respect the holy places of other religions.

 

 

This drawing represents my pain and suffering in Iraq. A group of soldiers entered my house carrying weapons, and threatened my husband in front of my children.

 It reflects my town (Qaraqosh) burning–there were some many houses burning. In this drawing, I am holding my bag ready to leave with a broken heart and tears in my eyes.

 

 

 

This is a portrait of someone killed by a member of ISIS. It is an image of a woman I know back in Iraq who tried to protect her son from being kidnapped and tortured from ISIS, but couldn’t.

 

 My first drawing represents ISIS slaying an innocent person and he thought he achieved something, and this made me feel sick and caused me a lot of pain to watch.

 

 

 This is a memory I have of Syria–the car explosion, burning buildings, and a lot of blood on the streets. It was the last memory I had before we were forced to leave. I remember the sirens, bombings, and gunfire outside my home. It still gives me nightmares thinking about it. I don’t think I can forget what I have seen.

 

I drew a picture of the day ISIS attacked my hometown of Mosul in Northern Iraq. I was in the hospital at the time when a rocket killed a woman and her two children. It was this event that forced my family to flee from our town to Jordan.

 

 

 When I was forced to leave Iraq. I had to leave my daughter behind because she couldn’t come with me, and now I am afraid that I will never get the chance to see her again.

 

 

 

 My second story is about psychological and sexual violence women faced in Iraq, and the way men dominate and control women in our society.

 

 

I was forced into an arranged marriage when I was only a child, and I had a miscarriage. I didn’t get a chance to go to school with other children my age. I had to work and support my family including my parents.
This is an image of children being killed outside a school in my neighbourhood in Syria. Some of the children were killed missiles outside schools. I remember seeing blood and bodies on the ground.
 This is an image of my husband and I, we are Sabians. One day we found an ‘X’ mark on our door, which meant that we were targets for ISIS.
 It represents the events that happened to me when I was waiting for a taxi to take me to work, and suddenly another car stopped and there was a man inside. He was wearing a long black dress and had a long beard. He asked me to come with him.

 

 

My husband and son were tortured and imprisoned in Syria, but it also expresses how I feel right now. I feel trapped because I can’t go anywhere, or do anything. I would stay at home and cry every day in the dark.

Fourth Quilt

Fourth Quilt

Quilt 2-10

My dream for the future is to live in a big house with my family and children playing outside without any problems.

 

Quilt 1-3My image is of my family and my love for my family, and the hope that one day we can all be together to plant olive trees in Palestine.

 

 

Quilt 2-10This is what Syria look like in the building with plants, flowers, and trees. I want the stability and happiness back again. This is what I hope for my children and family.
Quilt 2-10This picture is Iraq ‘bleeding’ because of the bad things happening there, but I have no worries because there are two Angels always there to protect me.
 
Quilt 2-10This image reflects my heart and everything that my children and I suffered in Iraq. Our friends and family couldn’t help us when we needed help, and I struggled to cope with what happened to my son. Each flower represents a challenge I faced in my life and how I have overcome each challenge [like a new flower]. I’m happy that my children receive the help they need, and that my children and husband are safe.
Quilt 2-10This is my church in my hometown where I grew up. I drew this church because I miss it and I want to go back and pray inside it again.
 
Quilt 2-10 It expresses my deep feeling for Syria because it will always be in my heart. I hope that one day it shines, there’s peace without killings, sadness, and tears. The sun is a symbol, it is a light shining down on Syria, and no matter what happens or where I go in life, I can feel the presence in the air and pray for Syria.
 
Quilt 2-10The leaves on the ground represent the number of family and friends I have lost since the war started in Iraq. The tree is dead tree. It is lifeless with no leaves. It how I felt sometimes when I think about all the horrors I have witnessed in Iraq. The green tree is what I desire and hope for everyday peace. A new life for my family and place where am I full of life and happiness.
 

Quilt 2-10My first story is when Kurds wanted to separate from Iraq. It made me feel sad like someone ripped a baby out of my womb because of what is happening in Iraq. It is always on my mind despite everything that is going on in Iraq. So I drew my body in the shape of the Iraqi map. The North wants to separate from the rest of the country, the white are my tears but also a thread connecting the two places as one. I hope that this issue will be resolved and all Iraqis can live in peace. (North – Kurdistan; East – Sinh; South – Shayea).

 

Quilt 2-10My image of the world and two people holding hands and a dove representing peace, purity and a new beginning. I feel peace and love not only for my country [Iraq] but also for the entire world. It is the only way we can move forward. Iraqis have lost so much since the war started, and it is time for a new beginning without war.
 
Quilt 2-10This is a picture of my friend and I am looking into the future. It was a peaceful and quiet place. I remember we would just spend the entire day outside near the lake, watching the sunset and doing what young girls do. It makes me smile when I think about it.
 

Quilt 2-10I dream of returning to my country and getting married.

 

Quilt 2-10I drew of an image of myself praying in front of the Darfash symbol because praying is the only that gives me strength and patience.
 
Quilt 2-10This is drawing of my church in Iraq. I felt brave and free when I went to pray. It is the only thing I have left that no one can take away from me.
 
Quilt 2-10This drawing represents ‘Virgin Mary’ and I am on my knees praying, asking her for peace in the world especially in my town (Qaraqosh)
 
Quilt 2-10My second drawing is of my family in Iraq. This is a story of my kind and warm mother cooking and playing with her children surrounding her.
 

 

 

Wallhanging

Wallhanging

Quilt 2-10

When I remember my hometown, I think about the times with my sister, shopping and enjoying our time together in the house we lived in with our family. We didn’t have much water and electricity the electricity would cut off from time to time. We bought the candles so I can teach my skills and work from home.

 

Quilt 2-10My second story is about my hope and dream that a divided Iraq will be reunited one day. All of us are equal and the same. She drew the Iraqi and Kurdistan flag together to show we have one homeland.

 

Quilt 2-10It’s Sabian wedding and the shaykh baptizes the bride in the river. We were wearing a traditional white dress.
Quilt 2-10Tree growing from my hand symbolizes my hope for a new start in life. I yearn for a time where my people can move forward and leave our problems behind. I will always have a deep connection to my country no matter where I go. I hope that one day Iraq becomes a tolerant and peaceful society.
 
Quilt 2-10I am kneeling and praying to God to accept my prayer.
Quilt 2-10My dream is to go back to Syria. I imagine myself standing in the middle of the airport in Damascus holding my bags and feeling a wave of emotions in my heart, like I am home and that I never left.

Posters


Posters

These posters can be downloaded and printed. Click on the images below.

 

Middle Eastern Refugee Quilt

 

Middle Eastern Refugee Quilt_2

AP on Flickr

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A photo on Flickr
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