When a woman works, it is rarely for herself. And when a woman rises, she rarely goes alone.
Women want to bring others along. They are caregivers and providers, friends and supporters, confidants and coaches.
They work for their children, their families, their communities, their world.
Instinctively, women look around and see who else they can carry with them, who else needs helps, who else needs a nudge forward.
Women are powerful. They are mothers and sisters and daughters and friends. They are capable, intelligent, determined, and persistent. And they will relentlessly show up, every day, to make sure that their loved ones are cared for.
Women around the world struggle feeling like they must choose between being a homemaker and mother or a businesswoman. Can they pursue goals and success, can they fight for passions and dreams, and still be a devoted mother, still tend to their families and nurture their children?
Refugee women feel this same pull as they rebuild their lives inside the camp. They, too, have families they love and care for. They, too, have dreams they want to pursue, skills they want to use.
The maker space we’re renovating right now will provide a place for refugee women to flourish—so they don’t have to choose between being a mother and a businesswoman. They can, just like all the women world over, be both.
Meet four powerful women—mothers and makers—who will thrive in our new Maker Space.
Zelan’s hands are always busy, whether it’s knitting or tending to the needs of her family—clothing children, fixing meals, cleaning her home.
Zelan knits washcloths to sell, helping her build the kind of life she wants for her children. She works with her yarn and needles in the main room of her house, in the refugee camp where she lives with her family.
The room is small and multi-purpose. During the day, it’s a living room and dining room. Thin, plastic sheeting is spread over the center of the room as a “table” for mealtimes. At night, sleeping mats are rolled out for Zelan, her husband, and their children.
It’s hard to be a businesswoman in this tiny home, balancing the tasks of home and motherhood with Zelan’s skills. And it can be hard to find even the space to work, jostled by children, trying to keep her crafts clean and tidy amidst jostling children and a room that serves so many uses.
Zelan needs the maker space. Room for her elbows to move as her needles fly. The mental rest of knowing her children are safe and cared for in a nearby space. And the ability to learn and grow, to practice new skills and gain business knowledge.
The maker space will allow Zelan’s home to be just that—a place of rest for her and her family. Not a business hub on top of a living room, a dining room, and a bedroom.
Najbeer makes everyone feel welcome. Syrians are known for their hospitality, but Najbeer takes it another step further—she not only welcomes everyone in, she puts them at ease.
But it’s hard to find the space to work. Najbeer is a wonderful hostess to all, but her cinderblock home is tiny. The main living area is living room, dining room, and bedroom all in one. A single wardrobe against one wall holds all her family’s possessions.
And with three young children and a brand new baby, Najbeer’s hands, home, and life is full. The maker space will allow her to sit with other women, learning and crocheting, without worrying about how to fit everyone into her home. And she can rest, knowing her children are enjoying themselves in a preschool setting and her new baby is loved and care for in a nursery.
For Najbeer, a maker space will allow her to be a mother and a businesswoman, without having to choose between the two. And she won’t have to compromise her love of community either.
Delvin loves to create a warm home. The wall outside her home is brightly painted, welcoming visitors. A small, handmade bench beside the door gives her kids a place to sit and giggle with neighborhood friends. She brews Arabic coffee so delicious it’s legendary—her husband credits it to winning him over before they were married.
Delvin is skilled at sewing, at small, even stitches and beautiful, detailed handwork. It’s a craft that requires precision and focus.
Right now, Delvin does her handwork inside her home, while her youngest clings to her legs and her oldest helps with chores. She loves her home, her life as a mother, this space for their family.
But a maker space will give Delvin the chance to concentrate on her craft. She can step away from her home, from her role as a mother, and focus on her skill. She can receive training to grow her business and expand her opportunities.
And then, after just a few hours, Delvin can return home, back to her children and her house. A businesswoman, a mother, a homemaker.
Shamza’s “camp sisters”—women who live in the same block of her refugee camp—taught her to knit. They helped her master the single hook and a variety of beautiful patterns. It was her sisters who taught her the proper tension of the yarn, to keep her projects neat.
Learning from other women has helped Shamza earn a little income to care for her family, to buy school uniforms and supplies for her children.
But Shamza is still new in her craft. The maker space will allow her to work alongside her camp sisters, to continue to learn from them and to grow in her skills and knowledge. Trainers will coach her in managing her finances, in English courses, in how best to grow her business.
So Shamza doesn’t have to go it alone. So she can rise alongside other women. So Shamza’s business success can be bound up in the success and community of her fellow sisters and makers.
Refugee women need a space to flourish right where they are. A space where they can invest in their future while their kids are cared for in a loving, preschool-type environment. So they don’t have to choose between being at home or being a businesswoman.
A place for community, for opportunity. A place for mothers and makers. Where businesses grow and women can thrive.