Earlier this week Pakistani designer Huma Adnan was part of a UNHCR team that inaugurated a crafts skills centre at Karachi’s Al-Asif Square in order to provide training to Afghan refugee women living in Karachi, in order to make them independent.
UNHCR representative in Pakistan, Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, Huma Adnan, owner of FnkAsia, Aik Hunar Aik Nagar (AHAN) representatives and elderly from the Afghan refugees’ community were present at the event.
The centre was built after UNHCR and FnkAsia joined hands to help Afghan refugee women living in Karachi have better chances of earning a livelihood here as well as when they return to Afghanistan. At the skills centre women will learn how to make hand-made home decorations, jewellery, embroidery and thread work; they will be provided with all the material and equipment needed to learn the craft and they will be taught entrepreneurial skills to sell the craft so that they can continue working on their own once the training is over.
Speaking to Something Haute, Huma shared what motivated her to participate in this project.
“My very first project was with AHAN when I worked with a group of women from Dadu, Sindh to recreate crafts and make a product in the form of embroidery and jewellery. It was meant to sustain the livelihood of those women who in turn could start an economic cycle, which they actually did. It was a natural transition to become a part of UNHCR. I find that partnering with organizations that have similar interests and values is beneficial for everyone.”
The designer, who joined hands with the UN Refugee Agency in June, has showcased jewellery made by these artisans at two fashion shows already and has been received with an overwhelming response.
“There has been great interest in the products, however the journey has just begun and the production has to be scaled up in order for us to cater to any kind of market. The idea behind these products was to create high fashion, luxury jewellery; amalgamating my expertise in fashion and design with the craftsmanship of the artisans.”
The six-months long training program will enable refugee women to produce crafts and also teach them how to make a livelihood out of their art. But once the training program draws to an end, what will be the next step?
“Once the six months training period is over, we intend to continue the cycle with a new batch of artisans and to re-employ some of the people from the old batch to act as master trainers. The eventual goal is to develop a supply chain to act as a means of sustainable living for these refugees,” she answered.
Huma Adnan will be training 25 women, which were shortlisted on the basis of their age, refugee status and education. Huma feels that every individual has their own unique understanding of culture which she helps them translate into jewellery. In due time, the crafts created will also be exhibited to link the artisans with the mainstream markets.
- Jewellery made by Afghan Refugees under the UNHCR-FnkAsia project is being created and retailed under the label The Craft Stories and is available here