Filmmaker Hassan Ghani
A group of Syrian women in Turkey have set up their own factory
to produce clothes for families over the border in Syria.
Amal carefully marks out lines on the fabric before powering on the machine to cut the cloth. Today she’s cutting out pieces for a batch of boys’ trousers, but her workload varies.
"I cut clothes,” she tells Al Jazeera as her colleague prepares the next batch of fabric, “children's clothes, women's clothes, pajamas, dresses, abayas, everything." They hand the cut pieces over to the seamstresses in the next room for sewing.
In total, 30 Syrian women work at this clothes factory, tucked away in a quiet corner of the Turkish border town of Reyhanli. Everything they produce is sent across the border into Syria. On average, they produce more than 70 pieces of clothing a day.
The project was initially set up with the help of an individual British-Pakistani aid worker, but it now has the financial backing of several charities. That support means all of the women, some of whom are widows, earn salaries and can support their families.
There are now over two million Syrian refugees in Turkey. They receive some support from the government, but don’t have the right to work. They can, however, set up their own businesses, if they have the means.
Duha has been working in the factory for almost two years now. Her three children are enrolled in the school next door, also funded by a charity. The factory, and the community that has grown around it, have helped the women cope with the losses they suffered in Syria, and the adjustment to life as refugees.
"Whatever problems we have, we share with each other," Duha tells Al Jazeera.
She says the work gives them all a sense of purpose, helping families that remain trapped on the other side of the border.
"We're working, and we've kept our dignity, pride and honour. This is the most important thing."
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