臺灣雷伊漢勒世界公民中心

"Project 1001 Wang" Refugee Women’s Empowerment Project

Whether long or short, it is a good one. Ten days of hand, one woof. Every swoof is the brainchild of a Syrian woman. The small town of Reihanle on the Turkish-Syrian border is the place where a large number of refugees poured in. To help, there are more than 20 NGOs stationed here, and one of them is an NGO that leaves you with no hope. With donations from specific international groups, this NGO built a tin house, and single beds were set up in the house, and people lived on the single beds, most of them couldn’t get out of bed, they were waiting to die… Die slowly, without dignity, with regret. They are critically ill and disabled Syrian refugees, most of whom are not accompanied by family or friends. On the single bed, half of the body was debilitated and paralyzed, and the other half was a few broken plastic bags. There is only one meal a day. Everyone knows that these people don’t have a few meals left to eat. Sometimes, there would be wails from the sickness in the house, but the wails could not penetrate the thin tin roof. It is a place without hope, a group of people with no future. I can’t help it, and neither can the newly established Taiwan-Reyhanle Center for World Citizenship. Make money doing crafts? It’s harder than you think! Although Taiwan’s World Citizenship Center itself may not survive, people still have to be saved. I decided to save the child first, but before I saved the child, I had to save the mother first. How to save? No capital, no equipment, no industry, no technology, in a small town on the Turkish-Syrian border, the financial crisis, the refugee crisis and the unstoppable new crown epidemic have almost put everyone in bed. In the municipality of Reihanle, more than 75 per cent of women are unemployed. Most of them are widows or husbands who are incapacitated. They took their children and walked for a few days and nights, crossed the border between Turkey and Syria, and then stayed, because they could no longer walk, and at the same time they could not turn back. The old, the wounded, the women, the children, all remained. They all want to move on, they all want to flee to Europe, they all know that Reihanle is a hopeless place, they all want to have a good job, feed their children, go to school, but where is the job? Although Taiwan’s World Citizenship Center itself may not survive, people still have to be saved. I decided to save the child first, but before I saved the child, I had to save the mother first. How to save? No capital, no equipment, no industry, no technology, in a small town on the Turkish-Syrian border, the financial crisis, the refugee crisis and the unstoppable new crown epidemic have almost put everyone in bed. In the municipality of Reihanle, more than 75 per cent of women are unemployed. Most of them are widows or husbands who are incapacitated. They took their children and walked for a few days and nights, crossed the border between Turkey and Syria, and then stayed, because they could no longer walk, and at the same time they could not turn back. The old, the wounded, the women, the children, all remained. They all want to move on, they all want to flee to Europe, they all know that Reihanle is a hopeless place, they all want to have a good job, feed their children, go to school, but where is the job? As CEO of the Taiwan-Reyhanle Center for Global Citizenship, how do I create jobs out of thin air?

I saw that local NGOs also tried to help this group of women and teach them to work in handicrafts, but two problems could not be solved: one was that most of the things could not be sold, there was no market, and everyone made similar things; Second, the profits are too low, or the middle-market traders have already plundered the vast majority of the interests, and local women have worked hard to survive. I asked NGOs, since they can’t be sold, why do you still do it? The answer is that if we don’t do it, we ourselves as cadres will not be able to live. Because without a name, there will be no funds, and without funds, we ourselves will be unemployed. I asked NGOs, why do you sell to black-minded dealers? They say, otherwise, who will buy it?  This is the dilemma of all NGOs right now, and for me, it’s also an opportunity.  First of all, I want to improve the technology of the existing handicraft so that there is someone to ask for it. Secondly, I have to help them sell, and sell far, because Turkey’s economy sucks. Finally, I want to treat these women fairly and help these NGOs. NGOs must also live, not fall. From the creation, they told their stories  little by little, and my assistant Vali and I collaborated with 5 local NGOs. I bought a lot of yarn and hook needles out of my own pocket to knit kittens and puppies with women. I thought that local women should be familiar with weaving skills, right? But as soon as I did it, I realized that women generally lack aesthetic education, and have no concept of design, aesthetics, and color. So, after making a bunch of alien creatures that can’t be seen, we returned to the original point, teaching drawing first and then design. Draw these meows one by one, and then shape the image stitch by stitch. For me, every woman should be an artist. They are not factory women workers or slaves in the capitalist global marketplace. Everyone should have their own original design and style. Through the difference and uniqueness of the works, there will be no vicious competition between them, and the diversity of products can be enriched. More importantly, these are the work of artists, not commodities. If you and I help these artists, they will send these works of art, along with their thanks. We do not receive online purchases, but blessings from friends from afar. I asked each woman to design and make a bath bag filled with delicate hallepo soap. So we can take a shower with these meows that they have knitted by their own hands, and when we are done, there is still a place to hang the soap. On average, each woman can knit 2 bath bags a day, 60 a month. The salary of each bath bag is 1/60 of the family’s living expenses for the month. This is much higher than the women’s salary paid by local NGOs. In order to avoid competition with local NGOs, the Taiwan Center cooperates directly with local NGOs, and all production and teaching are carried out within the original NGOs, while allowing NGOs to obtain a part of the profits to maintain their operations.  In the past five months, a total of 150 women have joined the Meow Brigade. After they learn the skills at NGOs, they take them home and do them slowly. In this way, even if you don’t go out, you can earn money, and you can also run the housework and take care of your children by the way. Today, 50 types of meows are ready. And these technically mature women, in pairs and twos, knit our woofing scarves. At the same time, we shoot documentaries for every woman regardless of the cost, they tell their own stories through the small animals they have woven in front of the camera, express the countless bitterness in the escape, and then let the bitterness turn into courage, courage to meet hope. For these women, showing their faces is undefiant and contrary to the teachings of conservative Islam, but they also know that for so long, no one has listened to their voices and they have never had the right to speak. They also know that today, they are not speaking out not just to help themselves or their families, but to plead for the lives of tens of millions of displaced refugees, millions of whom are still struggling in Syria. Today’s refugee problem is the result of our ignorance, indifference and inaction. We all know how tiny and fragile a meow is on the side of the road. However, 3 meows standing in a row may give you a second look; 10 meows calling together, will definitely make you unforgettable forever. In the near future, there will be 1,001 meows in the Taiwan Center, and the world will meow with Taiwan.

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