Allyson Hawkins (Jordan)

Allyson is a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where she is pursuing a master's in Human Security and Gender in the Middle East. Prior to Fletcher, Allyson spent two years in Tunisia teaching English with AMIDEAST, learning Arabic at the Bourguiba Institute for Modern Languages, and travelling. She also worked for Layalina Productions, Inc., a DC based nonprofit that produces award winning films and television series that aim to bridge the divide between the Arab world and the United States. At Layalina, Allyson served as Coordinating Producer and Production Supervisor for "Yemeniettes," a documentary that follows a team of teenage girls as they strive to break barriers of traditional Yemeni society through entrepreneurship. She is incredibly excited to return to Jordan, where she first studied abroad in 2010, and learn more about the issues facing Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Amman through working with the Collateral Repair Project. Allyson is originally from New Hampshire, and holds a BA in Government from Smith College in 2011. After her fellowship, Allyson wrote: "The training I received from AP ensured that I would be able to contribute to my host's efforts in a meaningful way. Knowing that I was able to build capacity and contribute to sustainable programs made my fellowship experience not only useful for my host, but rewarding for me."

First Steps and Feeling Honored

24 Jun

The women trickle in to CRP’s meeting room, exchanging hellos and commiserating about the midday heat. It’s clear many of them are old friends, demonstrated by the kisses and warm hellos they exchange. Shatha, my fearless co-leader, and I, try to start the meeting several times over their chatter.

Members of the Hope Workshop after the first meeting.

Members of the Hope Workshop after the first meeting.

These women all belong to the Hope Workshop, a cooperative craft group led entirely by refugees. Members design and market handmade crafts in local bazaars throughout Amman to generate a modest income to support their families’ needs. The creativity of these women is limitless, and over they years they have produced a variety of products, including handmade washcloths, paper bead jewelry, handbags, and hats (their biggest seller). Today we met to discuss the next project they’ll tackle- embroidery squares to be assembled into advocacy quilts, depicting personal stories of their lives as refugees.

Now, I am a creature of habit. A planner. So, when first tasked with this project, I had so many questions. What thread will they use? Where will I purchase the materials? How will we agree on the designs and draft them for production? Logistical issues, as usual, dominated my thoughts. These worries were melted away by the know-how and patience of Shatha, Program Manager at CRP and coordinator of the Hope Workshop. Not 10 minutes into my first day at CRP, Shatha was pulling out yet-to-be-sold products, proudly displaying them and describing the work that went into each one. She assured me that the Hope Workshop women would be more than up to the task, and excited to get started on a summer project, despite the fact that we’re mid-Ramadan.

Handbags and hats produced by Hope Workshop Members

Handbags and hats produced by Hope Workshop Members

She couldn’t have been more right! Once Shatha helped me explain the project to them, the women were brimming with ideas for what to draw on their squares. One woman wanted to depict an extremist fighter next to a young boy crying. Another wanted to embroider a picture of her family members who were killed in Syria. A third women from Iraq wanted to juxtapose traditional Iraqi bread with guns, side by side on a table. As I write this, I’m floored by their creativity and humbled by their willingness to share their experiences through this project. Their motivation and energy is inspiring, and I’m looking forward to our next meeting, where we will review their designs and I will learn the stories behind them.


With love from Amman,



Posted By Allyson Hawkins (Jordan)

Posted Jun 24th, 2016


  • Laura Stateler

    June 24, 2016


    It is great hearing from you and reading about some of the work you are doing with refugees! I am curious to hear about the other ways that the community supports refuges. Keep us updated on the quilts!

  • Allison Wilbur

    June 28, 2016


    They sound like a creative and focused group Allyson! I’m excited to see their blocks and read about your experiences working with them.

  • Rachael Hughen

    June 28, 2016


    So glad you get to work with such an inspirational and resilient group of women! It must be great to have a project that is both an outlet for their creativity and that expounds their voices as refugees.

  • Rita

    July 7, 2016


    The ideas presented by the women at Hope Workshop are not only creative but also very powerful. I appreciate their willingness to share their stories and transform their experience into powerful symbols and products. I look forward to reading their stories and your experience with CRP.

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