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Seeing the Dawn

Mr Payiz, the director of Sewing Hope, is a visionary, a dreamer. Living in a tiny village whose culture is resistant to progress, particularly if progress involves women moving ahead, Mr Payiz dreams big, Mr Payiz sees international runways, he hears the applause, he feels orders coming. He is pushing through the somewhat unforgiving reality of a village imprisoned in time.


“Yes I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

Oscar Wilde. Critic as Artist.


Mr Payiz, dreamed of a stage, of a red carpet where his Kurdish designer clothes could be revealed to the world. Mr Payiz dreamed of the ubiquitous white plastic chairs to each side of the runway but covered in golden fabric, shining like the sun. Mr Payiz dreamed of models each wearing one of his creations swishing down the runway to tumultuous applause Mr Payiz saw the dawn but reality was different. Reality was clothes stands from the Sewing Hope room to display his precious garments. Reality was hanging the garments, Shariya Camp style on the fence. And reality was no models, no applause. But Mr Payiz broke through according to his vision and purpose, and realised that to achieve his ultimate dream he could no longer afford to take heed of the expectations and opinions of the non visionary "others."


“Explore. Experience. Then push beyond.”

Aaron Lauritsen.


Mr. Payiz, Director of Sewing Hope

“The Sewing Hope event was an experiment on many levels. Nothing like this had been done before in Shariya, and I admit that I was nervous whether I was breaking cultural boundaries. My team of sewing ladies and I had been working on design and production for four months, it was the beginning of a more public journey, definitely not the end product. I have learned much from the event, I learned as much as women came and saw, they liked and bought, we did not publicize the event adequately. It was also a very windy day, one when people stayed in their homes. All of the attendees were delighted, and we did well in creating an e-mag promoting our products, and a QR code for registration. There was a good cross section of the population, from journalists visiting the area, to women connected with government and municipal positions. There were women who had walked from the camp, and those from the village. There were local dress shop keepers curious to see our designs!! We could have communicated with the village better, our PR was too late and too little, this is the major lesson that I learned. We have a timing problem in the village, the same with any event, if you publicise too early, everyone will forget, if too late, only a few will pay attention. You have to get the timing totally right. Even with our lack of knowledge, foresight and some mistakes it was an excellent event. I am glad that we did it because I have learned much from this. The dream is challenging, the dream is to create a recognised brand, Sewing Hope that will be sold in shops in the village and will then go further. I dream of international runways. This day was more of a mobile bazaar but the runway day with applause will come. I owe thanks to all of the Springs of Hope team for supporting me, everyone helped to transport and set up. Some of our staff did registration, some were showing people around. Special thanks to the Hope Academy of Music whose presence and performance gave a depth and context to our presentation. Witnessing the entire event, I have revised my perception that organising such an event is a formidable task. The unity and concentrated effort of every member of our staff shows that nothing is impossible when we come together in the spirit of unity, support and encouragement one for the other. Thank you to everyone for believing in the Sewing Hope dream and helping it to see the light of day.” - Mr. Payiz. Director of Sewing Hope.


“Goals are dreams brought to life.”

Amy Leigh Mercree.


Ayva, Play Therapist

“This was the most delightful experience, and introduced me to a whole new world of models and designs created by Payiz, Amal and their students. Although the weather wasn’t so favourable the event gathered significant attention, including one of the Duhok TV channels. It was a non threatening, personal way to do window shopping, to see something so new without being overpowered or shy to be seen looking. The fusion of both music and fashion created a special atmosphere and left everyone relaxed and smiling. My role was to welcome the guests and to manage attendance information which gave me time to speak with our guests, and gave me insight to their joy and satisfaction. The only question that remains, is when will we do this again?” - Avya. Play Therapist


“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson.


Sahla, Director of The Hope Center

“Mr Payiz’s fashion show was more of an exhibition than a show. As such it was exquisite and a totally new way of displaying our sewing ladies’ (many of whom were rescued from ISIS) beautiful garments and accessories to the local Shariya community and indeed to the world through social media. Miss Lisa received several requests to purchase from the UK and the USA. We as the Springs of Hope Community spent time and thought on advertising the event, which was well attended by the local community, particularly women from Shariya village. The park was charged with excitement as something new was introduced to the village. The Sewing Hope event was a world within a world. The atmosphere inside the park and outside the park were two different worlds. Women came and lingered, touching the clothes, imagining themselves wearing them. They said that we had "taken them into a different world." Some bought, some took our details so that they could order. No one was in a hurry, thoughts were not on the preparation of food or taking care of children. Thoughts were wrapped up in the feel of fabric and the vibrant colours on display. The event opened a window of possibility for women, particularly those lacking education whose work is within the confines of the house. They saw empowerment, they saw women who had “lost” five years or more of their life in the captivity of ISIS, selling their garments. On my way home I ran into local women, all talking about the event and the beautiful clothes and how the community needed more events like this. Praise goes to Payiz and Amal who were working on this event for four months, and to our Music Academy students who provided a conducive musical atmosphere in the park.” - Sahla. Director of The Hope Center


“You see things and you say, “Why?” But I dream of things that never were, and I say, “Why not?”

George Bernard Shaw.


Ayhan, Project Coordinator

“This was a highly commendable event. Over the past six months the dedication of the Sewing Hope team resulted in the creation of intricately designed, handcrafted dresses spanning diverse styles both traditional and modern. The exhibition, serving as a pilot project, unfolded over three hours with lively background music from our teachers and students, and attracted over 60 attendees from various backgrounds including representatives from Governmental departments.

Impressively not a single negative or disagreement was voiced, instead everyone lauded the initiative. The local women showed keen interest, drawn by their unvoiced passion for diverse clothing and stylish aesthetics. Foreign attendees, namely journalists, were equally captivated by the cultural styles, with one making several purchases.

From my perspective, the quality of the craftsmanship showcased at the event hold significant potential for growth in the coming years. The community both in Shariya village and the camp spends substantial amounts of money on fabric imported from Turkey and Iran. By consistently supporting and nurturing the talents displayed in such an event, we can foster a local industry. The key lies in satisfying local clients and presenting them with a design alternative that will gently halt their interest in imported fabrics and garments.

Thanks to the efforts of Springs of Hope Foundation, the local community now has a tangible vision and the prospect of witnessing similar entrepreneurial endeavors in the future.”

- Ayhan. Project Coordinator


“Every great dream begins with a dreamer.”

Harriet Tubman.



“I am so happy today to be part of the Sewing Hope Fashion Exhibition. All of our work is precious and valuable to us so we are so proud to see people coming and admiring our work. This is our work, each piece reflects our story, each item began with a dream however small it was. I rarely go outside the camp, so to exhibit in Shariya was like going to the moon, and to see both women from the village and women who had walked from the camp was encouraging and increased my self confidence in my ability to continue to create and design and eventually to support myself financially.” Wahida



“When I returned from captivity I stayed inside my tent for a year, which was right in the heart of the camp but I did not go out until Springs of Hope came to visit and opened their door to me. My life changed immediately from one of disappointment and sorrow to a life of productivity, belief in my abilities and dreams for the future. I love Sewing Hope, it’s my second home, and has helped me come back to life, restore my psychology, and has helped me heal. I was bursting with pride at the exhibition, it was so special as a woman to take something beautiful made by myself, designed by me, and see others looking at it with longing and appreciation. People did not look at me as a survivor of ISIS but as a young woman with talent and skill. It was an amazing feeling and accomplishment.” - Zainab




“The event was something that had never been done, a new idea and concept. It was awesome to show the world, I say the world because the TV came, our unique designs. I was amazed to see our work there, it was totally different from seeing our dresses inside the sewing room, everything suddenly looked big, professional and serious!! I felt so encouraged and empowered by the event.” - Jozven



Each dress, each accessory, whether traditional Yezidi, Kurdish or international design, was made with love and care and tells a personal story from both women who were rescued from ISIS and those who are refugees living in the camp. Each item is a story of triumph, of victory, of hope, of empowerment and future. It was the story woven into the garments that we took to Shariya village.

Young women who had learned, who were required to learn to sew and mend their captors uniforms when they returned from the battlefield, now paraded glorious garments, in a riot of colours each of which represented the colors of their healing souls.

In 2015 we held a fashion show in the event tent of Shariya camp. A generous designer from Los Angeles created 20 made to measure glorious garments for 20 girls who had been rescued from ISIS. The event, made for women, was in typical Kurdish style, overrun by men and self invited dignitaries which kind of defeated our purpose as we did not wish to “parade” these rescued girls in any way.

We learned from mistakes, it was a case of "fools rush in where angels fear to tread" but it all worked out. One of the highlights that I will never forget is a young girl called Jamilla, wearing a gown of shimmering gold, taking a selfie of herself, in front of a table where we had placed the black garb of ISIS. At that moment, no dignitaries sitting in the front ten rows so that women had to stand at the back, were important. At that moment, when Jamilla shone, the dream that is called Sewing Hope was born.



Can you help?

With your help, each item is a story of triumph, of victory, of hope, of empowerment and future for women who escaped from ISIS. It was the story woven into the garments that we took to our first Sewing Hope Fashion Event.

Every donation makes a huge difference.



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