Mr. Autumn, locally known as Mr. Payz, is a sunny kind of chap, his name more suited to a bright summer’s day than the falling leaves of autumn. He is the odd man out in this non communicative community, where answers are brief, not more than four words then over and out. Mr Autumn with his tape measure casually slung around his neck needs a good two hours to fully answer, to fully communicate. His closing sentence is always “Is there anything else we should discuss before I return to the sewing room?”
As you may have guessed, Mr. Autumn is our new director, a very welcome addition to Sewing Hope. Our beloved Latifa and Salwa left when they recently married, Latifa is now pregnant. Salwa has moved to her husband’s village. Meet Mr. Payz. The man who plans to put Sewing Hope and Shariya firmly on the fashion design map.
“Hello everyone. I am Payz Hussein, 32 years old, married with an eighteen month old son called Arzhan who wakes me at 6am sharp every day, including Fridays (I don't believe in a day for sleep, it's a waste of time.) I think that you would like to know that Arzhan means “King of a Castle” and he certainly lives up to his name.
Since a young child I have been curious, loving learning, education and wanting to know everything about everything. I have always worked, even when young, I decided not to waste my school holidays just hanging around, so I always found work. My day is structured, I have been this way all my life, in order to make time for everything. I give myself five hours a night for sleep, more than that is a waste. I have so much to do, so much to achieve so I need structure. I have no patience for people who are always tired or needing to sleep. When I see my students slacking, I wake them up. They are young, how will they get anywhere by giving in to tiredness?!!!
I am actually a fashion designer. I have been working for 9 years as such for a Turkish company LC Waikiki that has a presence in Iraq. I work in their local store but have more recently been presenting my designs to international management. It is an exceptional learning experience as this is a very different world from Shariya. This is a world full of runway design, colour, unusual fabrics (I dream of these things at night). It teaches me time management (well to be accurate it reinforced my belief in time management), teamwork and cooperation patience (but not for those who are lazy) with those who are trying hard to acquire new skills and better themselves.
I work three days a week for Springs of Hope where I have freedom to run wild with design, color and texture.
The remainder of my time I am at home with my family or with friends. We have a small farm in the Old Shariya village, which belonged to my grandfather. I like to go there and take care of the trees and the orchard.
Coming back to Sewing Hope, it's both highly beneficial for me and also a great honor to run this department for Springs of Hope. It is something of which I have dreamed for many years and now this dream is coming to life. I chose to graduate most of the students which I inherited as they had no vision. It was a time out for them which I understand is needed in the camp but they lacked ambition. I also asked for younger women whose minds would be more open to the world of design, not just the traditional Kurdish clothes that we see in the camp and the village.
They had made a great beginning, but their work was lacking precision. I use my tape measure all the time, to check every measurement, to ensure that everything is straight, is symmetrical, less than perfect is not my standard.
We have returned to many basics. I am using garments that were already made to show that which is correct and that which needs improvement or alteration. Just so that you know I never throw even the smallest scrap of material away, in time everything will be used.
The bridal room is one of the most special rooms that I have ever seen, it is a dream just to be inside it. I plan to teach my students how to design and sew exquisite evening dresses and eventually wedding dresses. My dream is to open a small and very specific boutique in Shariya, where we can gradually extend the current dress culture to include more modern styles.
Will I have time to manage a Sewing Hope shop? Of course, I will restructure elsewhere and make time. But first, we have to change our system, to give away less and to build a supply of well designed, well made garments. I envisage the sewing room being the hub, being the place of design with the majority of garments going to the Sewing Hope boutique. With time and patience, we will achieve this.
It has been a pleasure to share something about myself with you. Now you can meet some of my students.”
Mr. Payz Hussein. Designer, Sewing Hope.
“I love sewing and even more so now that we have an international designer training us. He is an excellent teacher with full energy and passion to show us new things. He is a perfectionist, if something is not exact we will have to do it again but that’s good training for us.
I want to learn everything so that I will be able to support myself in the future. I am grateful to Springs of Hope for this wonderful opportunity to learn and to develop practical skills.” -Wahida.
“Since 2014 my life has been unstable. Although I have never been in a plane or a boat, I liken it to one of these in a storm. Everything has been shaken and continues to be shaken. My people have been subjected to endless forms of injustice, still we live in harsh conditions in torn tents throughout the summer heat and bitter cold of the winter. No one cares about our welfare.
I am grateful to Springs of Hope because they have given me the door of hope. This door is one where inside it is a different world, one where I can forget about our tent life, one where I can focus on the future and not my depression. I love sewing, I love beading and am now developing my design skills. I am now learning how to take measurements to make a tailor made garment.
I want to thank SOHF for giving us this door of hope both in the sewing room and at the stables, these are two places where I feel not just comfortable, but healthy with positive energy.” - Samera.
“I am Huda, age 21. I live with my parents and ten siblings in Shariya camp, I have never been to school, I have never even seen inside a school. Life is hard and we have all contributed to our family’s survival by working in the fields.
My goal in life is to learn to sew well so that I can support myself by this honorable means. This is my first ever sewing course and I have already learned so much about the sewing machine and how to use it and take care of it, and how to measure. Mr Payz is a very energetic teacher, giving us much useful information and guidance. He also teaches us about the fabric and color coordination.
I hope that one day I will be the owner of my own shop, whether here in Kurdistan or in my homeland in Iraq.” - Huda
“I am 24 and live in a tent in the village, not in the camp. I have three brothers and two sisters, both my parents are sick so my siblings and I work in the fields to support them.
I love sewing from a young age. I observed my mother sewing and learned much just by watching her. Sewing is my passion, I am totally in love with it, even when I work in the fields I dream of design and beautiful garments. Thinking of these things helps me to pass the time when doing hard work in harsh conditions.
We are learning so much and so fast, Mr Payz does not like wasting time. If he sees one of us giving up or slowing down, or standing with our hands on our hips, he immediately motivates us and we continue with work. He is right. This is our future.
I pray that I will be able to make a good income because it's in my heart to support my family and to give handmade clothes to poor families and orphans. Please pray that I succeed.” - Yusra Khider.
“Hello, I am Muna. I am 22 and come from a large family with 16 siblings. I have been coming to the Sewing Hope courses for a long time now, but things have changed recently. Mr Payz has changed things, he teaches us how to accurately measure, he rejects our work when it is not perfect. He teaches us about motivation, team work, and cooperation. He also teaches us about marketing. He plans to bring Mr Noori our psychologist, to talk to us, and also to take us to the Waikiki store in the Family Mall. I have never been to the Family Mall or even to a store so I am very excited about that.
He has given me such motivation that even when I am at home I check YouTube for ideas. I am trying to draw my ideas. My future has become full of hope now. Thank you." - Muna
“I have much more to say to you, for now I hope that you feel more connected with some of my students and will continue to support them. I will continue to update you. They all have talent and motivation and with our joint help can make a good life for themselves. Thank you for your care and support.”
CAN YOU HELP?
With your help we are preparing these girls to support themselves. From despair about the future - they can now see hope!