Sisterhood Soap is more than a business…it’s a place to belong

“Hazno—she has no one.”

Being an orphan casts a long shadow in Iraq. Hazno is a grown woman, a mother with children. She married into a large family. We sit and talk in a room teeming with her husband’s family. There is so much life in this room! The other women explain how Hazno’s father died when she was young. Her mother left her to be raised by elderly grandparents so she could remarry. And now, her grandparents are gone too.

Relationship and connection matter here. They are defining elements. Your family, family reputation and connections largely decide if you will marry well, if you will get a good job, if you will be respected in your community, and if you will be protected should something bad happen.

Hazno, her husband, and their children were driven from their home by ISIS two years and five months ago—she tells me without having to pause to calculate. They can’t go home because ISIS still controls their area. But somehow the fact that they are displaced isn’t nearly as defining as the fact that she can never “go home” to her own family.

It was in a small group with her sisters-in-law that Hazno learned how to make soap. Over olive oil and lye, and lots and lots of time and practice, she learned how to steep, weigh, and blend the ingredients that become Sisterhood Soap. As she works, her youngest children—two-year-old twins—are kept busy by some of the older children. Sometimes they are occupied by siblings, sometimes by cousins.

Hazno creates a different reality for her children than the one she knew. Her children are steeped in family like the chamomile flowers she uses to make soap—drenched. Her children wander in and out of their cousins’ homes with confidence. The youngest children in this community never lived in the homes their parents built in the mountains of Sinjar, in northern Iraq. They have never seen the homeland of their fathers and grandfathers, or the temples of their Yazidi faith. This string of tents, shipping containers, and sheep pens is the only home they’ve ever known.

In spite of it all, Hazno and her sisters-in-law create the kind of stability that fosters a powerful sense of belonging.

We arrived to the community mid-morning, after breakfast was long-ago eaten and the dishes were washed. We sat down with Hazno, her sister-in-law, and a few children, but it didn’t take long for news of our visit to spread along the string of make-shift homes. Soon we were many—women talking over each other, toddlers clamoring for their mothers’ attention. Stories were shared with laughter and tears.

There was rich connection surrounding Hazno.

Each beautiful bar that she makes and sells helps her care for her family, allows her the resources to create home and belonging. And if you’ve purchased a bar of Sisterhood Soap, you’ve helped to create another layer of invisible connection for Hazno, a layer that encircles her.

Thank you for helping to create such a beautiful program that facilitates so much live. Please continue to support the sisterhood by purchasing their handmade products today.