With steady steps, belief in themselves and passion for sewing and design, and with love and determination to overcome challenges, a group of four young women chose the “Sewing machine” to build a better future for themselves.
Among the threads and heaps of cloth scattered here and there, Sama Adnan, Nariman Hadi, Marwa Raed and Elaf Dayyeh have the chance to prove their passion for sewing and learning about traditional Arab designs, and weaving them, in Abla’s workshop for Oriental Antiques.
Abla’s workshop offers practical training as part of the Design and Determine project, implemented by the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD), which works to establish a qualitative partnership with the private sector in order to create employment opportunities and decent jobs in a safe environment.
The project also seeks to enhance the capacity of Jordanians and refugees, improve their employability, build their professional skills and support entrepreneurs to start work, grow and expand.
ARDD’s cooperation with Abla’s workshop makes it possible for these four young women to undergo practical training and equips them with skills that help them enter the labor market with a non-traditional craft, sewing, that blends heritage with modernity.
According to the latest report on sewing, published by the Jordanian Labor Observatory in 2017, there are about 2,000 sewing workshops all around Jordanian cities , employing about 8,000 workers of both genders. .
The project, which entails “meeting, then training, then having a job”, wishes to contribute to refining the knowledge and skills of young people, enhance their experience and skills, and increase their chances to get hired, thus achieving their ambitions and working in professions they find suitable.
‘Piety, honesty, daring and sophistication’
“I started my business in Jabal Lweibdeh. At that time, my workshop was selling oriental antiques, which later shifted to manufacturing, designing and distributing clothes,” says Abla Azar, owner of Abla’s workshop, one of ARDD partners in providing practical training for participants in the Design and Determine project.
“I am proud of my Arabism and nationalism,” says Abla who focuses on designs that keep alive Arab and oriental heritage by sewing Arabic calligraphy on clothing.
Azar says that designing clothes requires great thought and awareness, so when she trains the young girls through the Design and Determine project, she draws their attention to the importance of piety, honesty, daring and sophistication in dealing with customers, qualities that, she says, help them succeed in their businesses in the future.
‘My ambition has no limit’
Adnan (19-year-old Iraqi trainee) received the training advertisement with Design and Determine Project from her sister. She had aspired, since her childhood, to become an international fashion designer, to make traditional Arab designs known around the world, so she jumped at the opportunity to get some practical training to achieve her dream.
Adnan learned about types of embroidery and how to properly handle the sewing machine. She aspires to open her own workshop in the future, and to travel the world to learn about as many designs as possible, and for that, “my ambition has no limit”, she says.
‘A real opportunity to learn and benefit’
Hadi, a 24-year-old Iraqi trainee with a degree in accounting, found that the Design and Determine project matches her goal of learning sewing and embroidery. She got to know about the project from a close friend and ended up at Abla’s workshop to learn how to design dresses, and how to match colors.
According to Hadi, “the project is a real opportunity to learn and benefit from Ms. Abla, who has long experience in this field”. The training helped Hadi learn how to sew and embroider dresses, and now she aspires to open her own shop where to sell distinctive items of clothing that she designs and sews herself.
‘We learned things we thought were easy’
“Luck was with me during this period. The pleasure of completing my university studies with a major in English literature, with an excellent grade, is no less than learning sewing and embroidery and benefiting from the Design and Determine project, which I heard about during a seminar held by the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development to introduce its work and programs,” says Raed, A 22-year-old Jordanian trainee.
Raed loved sewing all her life, but she did not have the opportunity to learn and master it until she signed up to Design and Determine project, which provided her with the opportunity to train and learn new things that she used to think were easy, as well as the basics of sewing and dealing with customers.
Raed wants to complete her university education, and also to open her own business of selling clothes in the future.
‘Pursuing my dream’
Still a student at the University of Jordan, Dayyeh does not consider studying languages her only dream after learning embroidery, dress making and repairing clothes through the Design and Determine project.
Dayyeh, a 21-year-old Jordanian trainee, learned about the training offered by the project through Instagram. Striving to make her dream of learning to sew in general, learning more about designs, and transforming fabrics into clothes, she joined the Design and Determine project.
She admits that she needs more training, but after the training she received, she considers herself “good”. In the future, she hopes to establish her own workshop for the manufacture of T-shirt of her own design.