Embroidery that empowers

CID talks to Hanan Jaber Sahawneh, founder of the Ayadeena project that provides home-based embroidery work for poor and uneducated, yet skilled women in Jordan.

Amal, Deema, Haifa, Majdoleen, Manal, Rula, Suad, Yasmin…. these brightly coloured cotton pillows, inspired by Jordan’s traditional dress designs, can be ordered online and shipped worldwide for $249. This may sound like an ad, but behind the stitches, these pillows have a story to tell. They are named after their makers ­— 43 brave Jordanian women who have gathered around the Ayadeena project, which provides home-based embroidery work to poor and uneducated women since 2009.

Ayadeena is the Arabic word for “our hands” and a tribute to the women who skilfully create these products. Giving them an opportunity to generate an income while at home.

“These women are the heart of Ayadeena. They are skilled, patient and very ambitious women who are unable to leave their homes to work; either due to their tasks as mothers and home makers, or because of the traditional view that these women are not allowed to work outside their homes. The burden of poverty falls upon these women and each product crafted by them is a laborious work of hope for a better future,” explains Hanan Jaber Sahawneh, founder of Ayadeena.

All the pillows are made of Indian raw silks and French cottons and usually take between two and three weeks to make. As well as hand embroidered decorative pillows, the Ayadeena women also make curtain trims, table runners, table placemats and napkins.

“They are all very eager to work as they’ve been using embroidery for years for traditional clothing and they know the craft really well. Besides giving them an opportunity to work, our aim is to preserve tradition, but in a more appealing way to modern generations.Instead of using just traditional red, black and white, we have incorporated vibrant modern colours with traditional designs.”

As for future plans, Sahawneh says that she is ready to take Ayadeena to the next stage by reaching out to interior designers and furniture manufacturers who are willing to incorporate hand embroidery into their designs or furniture pieces, such as chairs, ottomans and stools.

“We are very flexible with the choice of colours, patterns and designs and our products are not just for homes, but also for restaurants, lounges and hotels that want to incorporate traditional artwork and embroidery in a more subtle way,” says Sahawneh.

For more information visit: www.ayadeena.com

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