What do you do when you’re a young, widowed mother, with limited education, no home and no money to buy food for your children? You get sewing of course! Well that’s what the young Syrian widows of the tent towns in the Bekaa Valley, near Zahleh in Lebanon are doing.
Meet Mara* who is facilitating the development of a grass roots collective of widows who are taking up their embroidery needles in a bid to provide for their children, restore their dignity and stand against the war atrocities.
When a young widow approached Mara one day at church to ask for financial help, Mara had nothing to give her. The widow then said she could sew, knit and embroider, so Mara asked for a few samples. When they arrived, they were beautiful and in no time at all, sales were secured for the items. Mara asked the widow for a few more, and again these sold very well.
So Mara had the idea of asking other widows without income to also create items, and in no time at all, Hook & Thread was formed: a growing grass-roots collective of Syrian widows from all over Lebanon and Syria who are earning money and standing against the circumstances within their country.
“With brave hearts and good will, we started the stitching project,” says Mara. “As it says in Proverbs 31, ‘Who can find a virtuous woman? She seeks wool and flax, and works willingly with her hands, and does not eat the bread of idleness.’ By participating, a widow can manage her own life with dignity, earn some money to support her family, and feel safety and connection with others.”
Mara works alongside Esther* who is LeaDev-Langham’s ministry partner in Lebanon. Their ministry organisation focuses on restoring families torn apart by the Syrian conflict (read more). They decided to partner with Hook & Thread, because through it many more families can be reached with practical help and the love of Jesus.
And there’s a lot of agency among the women: “They don’t want donations,” shares Esther. “Just help to get sales for their beautiful hand-stitched products.”
Mara disseminates the profits amongst the women and also sets aside a small portion for unexpected emergencies.