10,000 refugees lived in Turkey in 2012. Within five years, as the Syrian conflict raged and destroyed lives, the number of refugees has swelled to over 3 million. The vast majority of these refugees struggle to find the work necessary to support their families and provide meaning in their own lives. They are forced to depend on others for their own well-being.
The Anka Cooperative is a social enterprise created to empower Syrian women refugees by teaching them transferable skills, providing them dignifying work, and enabling cultural integration into their new society through the creation of fine carpets and traditional crafts. We currently empower 250 weavers in two camps. By pledging for a world-class quality carpet through this campaign, you'll allow us to expand into a third refugee camp and employ more weavers. This Kickstarter will sustain our initiative and move us towards our goal of impacting 20,000 refugees by 2020.
We have partnered with Woven Legends, an industry leader for decades, to make the highest quality rugs in the world.
Wool: we only use hand spun, lanolin rich wool sourced from sheep free grazing in Eastern Anatolia. The wool is never treated to chemicals through the cleaning process, resulting in lustrous and stronger yarn, giving the finished rug a glowing aura that will last for a century or more.
Dyes: we only use the highest quality natural, vegetal dyes. Naturally-dyed carpets will not fade and the colors will never run––they blend poetically and the color and richness will last for generations.
Weaving: we partner with master craftswomen to train, supervise, and instruct our weavers. Progress and quality are examined multiple times per day. Our refugee weavers respond well to the challenge of learning this skill.
Finishing: when a rug is finally cut from the loom after months of weaving, we triple wash the rug using cold water, then press it to ensure it retains its intended shape.
The Anka Cooperative has already had an extraordinary impact on women’s lives.
One of these women is Neriman from Damascus. Neriman is in her early 40s and has six children. Unlike many of her unfortunate relatives, she made it safely to the Adiyaman refugee camp in Southeastern Turkey. Neriman is college educated, and prior to the war she worked for many years as an accountant. But in the camps, of course, there are no accounting jobs, no freelancer websites to apply her trade. Idle time brings painful memories. She jumped at the chance to work at the carpet workshop. It’s a new skill, but she is learning and just as important, she is earning.
Neriman is paid the same as her Turkish counterparts. She is saving to buy gold earrings for her daughters, and hopes to save for a home for when they return to Syria. Neriman represents the 250 Anka weavers who have chosen to make the best of their difficult circumstances, and are the reason Anka exists.
Sanliurfa: The Sanliurfa camp has a capacity 10,000 and a current population 14,000 living in containers. The camp has paved streets, lighting, water, sewer, A/C, and even a TV. It's a secure facility but residents can come and go as they please. The weaving workshop is in an activity center that also houses an art room, restrooms and laundry facilities. We employ 25-30 weavers in a well lit and ventilated hall with windows and A/C.
Adiyaman: The Adiyaman camp has a capacity of 20,000 and a current population 29,000 living in tents. It has paved streets, lighting, water, sewer, A/C, and TV. It's also a secure facility but residents can come and go as they please. The weaving workshops are in six tents. We employ 225 weavers in a well lit and ventilated tents with windows and A/C.
Coming in 2017, Gaziantep: This campaign will allow us to expand. We have been approached by camp management to expand our training and empowerment model the refugee camp in Gaziantep, Turkey. This expansion will cost the Anka Cooperative over $100,000 for looms, supplies, training, transportation, instruction, etc.
Empowerment Through Employment: The weavers love their work, not only for the income, but also because it provides companionship and a place to share laughs and to stay active. As a skilled weaver can weave up to 10 sq feet per month, an 9'x12' rug will employ one weaver for nearly one year. Weavers are paid the exact same as Turkish weavers.
Cultural Integration: The Anka Cooperative helps refugees learn traditional Turkish language, culture and customs by learning the craft of weaving and by interacting daily with Turkish teachers. We partner with other charities to expand our reach beyond the refugee camps.
Education & Awareness: We use our proceeds to support charitable organizations that tell stories of refugees' lives and struggle for dignity. We further strive to share our fundamental belief that empowerment and dignity comes from work, not a handout. We teach women to fish, we don't give them fish.
Stunning and meaningful Christmas stockings are made from world class handwoven rug fragments.
We have a variety of already woven rugs we are offering as rewards. See them below, and click on each tier link to see more options. You will be able to pick your rug during the survey after the campaign.
Our co-founder is Turkish-American and has been training women to weave rugs for 35+ years. We have excellent relations with the management of the refugee camps, and have been working there for 5 years. We currently have over 500 existing rugs that are awaiting a new home. The risk and challenge we may have is keeping up with demand. We're hopeful to take on this challenge as we will then be able to sustainably empower so many more refugees. We feel confident we will be able to follow through, and will keep you updated along the way.
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