March was a freezing month so much so that it was hard for us all to push through. March came at a time where the mental energy required to cope with the lack of electricity and heating was running low. Yet somehow we managed to host several events all of which were life changing. I will try to catch us up as each step of our journey is important, and enables the continuum.
Sewing Hope Fashion Show. I am cautious when approaching such an event, one which has the ability to trigger past traumas of being dressed, made up and paraded in front of “prospective captors” on the slave markets of Raqqa as slaves, chattel, booty of war, infidel girls of no value. We therefore made it into a closed, women only event to put an invisible safety net in place for both modesty and confidence. Some of the guys and young boys snuck in anyway but were highly supportive and encouraging of our Sewing Hope models who displayed gowns they had made and named, gowns that told part of their story of healing, designer gowns that were their highly articulate alternative narrative. Gowns that were presented with shouts of "Love! Sunflower! Springs! Planet! Butterfly!" Gowns that came into existence, whose fabric and design was chosen as a reflection of the life story.
I was so impressed by their process of thinking, considering, weighing up. No choice was random. "Planet was named for our grieving planet. The fabric is firm, the dress is dark which symbolises the suffering of women. The stars show light in the darkness, and the promise of a bright future. Planet paints the picture of our overcoming journey from captivity to a hopeful future.”
I noted Miss Debra's ( their Communications mentor ) instructions in their online rehearsal class “Pause. Twirl. Hold a sleeve up. Turn.” No chance, I thought, that would not happen. They are in Shariya camp not New York! I could not have been more wrong. Happily wrong! They twirled and paused, and stopped and returned, heads held high, brimming over with joy, poise and confidence. They came alive as they were remantled.
“The name of my dress was Elegant, and that is exactly how I felt when I wore it. It was a wonderful event, I was filled with joy. I became so confident and strong when I wore the dress and stood in front of my friends. Whatever happened to me, I am now Elegant.”
“It was such a wonderful day. I have never experienced such a day, it was different from every other day of my life. I loved the dress and I loved its name, Butterfly which represents my journey from Daesh to today standing here around the fountain with my friends. Like the butterfly, I have been hidden. Today I broke free. I shared my story with other ladies to empower them to share theirs. Freedom comes with sharing.” Zuhaira
“It was such an amazing event. The atmosphere of joy and respect was unbelievable. Miss Lisa told us that she saw us as princesses living in a palace, not as girls abused by Daesh, now living in tents. She told us to dream, and to watch our dreams become reality. All my negative thoughts left me when I heard her words. The name of my dress was Red Rose. I, like the rose, have started to bloom.”
"When I wore the white dress, the dress for the bride, and heard the gasp of ‘the bride is coming, the bride is coming’ at that moment I felt like a queen, and I knew that deep inside, I am a bride”
The bridal dress or the white dress is becoming a piece in itself. It is in its initial stages and will possibly take years until perfected. It is a simple bridal dress which we are using as a background, as a stage for each woman who wants to tell their story, in embroidery, through a piece of fabric or even an object that they will sew to the dress. It's the story of how the bride became the bride. The White Dress will one day be priceless.
Should you have a precious item that you would like to be sewn into The White Dress, you are welcome to send us. Maybe as a group you would like to embroider a piece of fabric, relating something of your story. We would love for you to share with us, it would be wonderful to receive global stories encouraging and surrounding our Yezidi life stories.
“Even from a distance, it has been a privilege to watch the steady and most incredible progress of the SOHF “Labours of Love” in Shariya Camp and War City during these past seven years.
There are really no adequate words to express the joy and wonder of my “on location" visit leading up to the Nawroz celebrations and the opening of the Horses for Hope Stables. I have been able to see up close the traditional Kurdish Dress Day, the Sewing Hope Fashion Show, and the 5K Run for Hope. All events imparting in their unique ways honour, dignity and joy to all those participating.
For those of us observing, to see the wonder of multiple lives in the beautiful process of experiencing healing. I would not trade the days spent with the SOHF Yezidi community for anything!”