Woven Bags Made by Syrian Refugees

She didn't have to, but she did. Rania Kinge went back to her homeland of Syria, despite her thriving career in Switzerland, despite her family of diplomats which allowed her access to the US, her perfect English, her endless possible lives. Rania returned to the place she came by because of the six and a half million people displaced by war in the proud country she calls home. Because of women living in shelters and tents, often illiterate and without jobs, and a family at their feet. She went back to give these women work, and a way of belonging to one another.

Peering from the top of the picture above, Rania shines like the sun. She lives in Damascus, where rockets may still fall and the air is cloudy with death, mistrust, betrayal. It's never really safe to walk to the corner, but fifteen years in she is still walking her dog, still shining in her dedication to her 8000 year old city, once a center of religious tolerance and cultural wealth.

I cannot live with watching Syria fall to pieces . . . says Rania, and so she carries on, creating a tiny haven where women gather, make coffee and put on music and work together with bright colored materials to create beauty . . . It is a kind of therapy, one that feeds the soul as well as the family. 

Rania designs snappy bags, and the women in Sweida who cannot read or write but are fluent in the language of crochet are making these bags, now at Ibu. In their midst is Wafa, an educated pharmacist picking up crochet needles because her home and pharmacy were destroyed by bombs and what else is she to do? Some women have lost husbands and sons; all have lost their homes. I❤️Syria is finding markets for this craft so that the women can continue to create, and in creating, live.  

I always dreamed of going to Damascus, the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, the center of unsurpassed art and craft. Now, I dream of the women and children there. I want to be a part of their circle. I want sit at their table with coffee and crochet needles (which I have no idea how to put to use), and to make a new life together, worthy of the old old city from which they come. I want to braid of our lives a global circle, a new kind of home. An utterly new way for us both to belong to this world. 

Susan Hull Walker