Women Upcycling Project in Refugee Camps

Women Upcycling Project in Refugee Camps

Franzi, from our MTS team, is currently on site in Jordan and reports on our projects and work:

„Last year in October, I went to Jordan for the first time to join the second stage of the upcycling pilot project launched by morethanshelters, in cooperation with Oxfam, in the Za’atari Refugee Camp.

During the first phase, our idea of upcycling workshops inspired different active NGOs in the camp to replicate our approach in other projects.

Our pilot project’s aim to promote single women, who are especially disadvantaged, has thus far been successful and influential in Za’atari, but nevertheless still encounters new challenges. Since the involved organizations are active in different districts, their communication is severely impaired. Also, apart from the exhibition spaces of the NGOs, there was no sustainable marketing strategy for the products produced in the workshop. This is why we are now focused on the scaling of the project and improving marketing both nationally and internationally. After talking with the women who already participated in workshops last year, I realized that their enthusiasm and motivation forced the project to move quickly forward. It is our current aim to promote the independence of the participants through the advancement of manual production so that the initiatives remain alive in the long term, even without the support of international organizations.

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The aim should be to create structures and concepts which create alternative income opportunities for the people in the camp as well as promote individual professional development. This creates perspective and gives women dignity and self-determination. The strengthening of the community and self-organization are important components that currently are hardly recognized in refugee camps.

The long-term goal is to make products, using the traditional craftsmanship of the Syrian women, out of recyclable material. These products will be marketed internationally thanks to the help of Jordanian designers and artists, thereby creating social businesses.

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The next step is to convert empty spaces into so-called community HUBS, which will give the community safe areas that provides security and privacy. An active engagement of the participants in the workshop encourages a sense of community and responsibility for these places.

Through these types of projects we want to highlight the potential of the refugees and the value they will add to the Jordanian economy and society.  We hope this will promote the perception that refugees are an enrichment and not a burden.”

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Franziska Priesemeister, February 2017

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