Refugee-made gifts: six brands that support displaced artisans
Buying homeware and decor items crafted by refugees helps displaced people start new lives - here are some of our favourites
Every minute, 30 people become refugees, joining the estimated 70.8 million people already forced from their homes as a result of persecution, conflict or human rights violations.
Refugees leave behind everything they’ve worked for, including their livelihood, but they bring with them their skills, cultural heritage and artistic expressions. Earning a living is often the most effective way for displaced families to rebuild their lives in a new country.
One way you can help is by making a conscious effort to shop with social enterprises who work with refugee artisans to bring their skills to a global market.
When you purchase refugee-made goods, not only do you receive beautifully crafted products, but you also help displaced people get a fresh start in their host country. It is a gesture of solidarity and a way to use your purchasing power for good.
With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of six brands that bring wonderful refugee-made products to you…
Founded by the UN Refugee Agency, MADE51 is your go to destination for home décor and accessories made by refugee artisans from Afghanistan, Syria and other areas affected by conflict and political upheaval.
MADE51 partners with local social enterprises to identify talented refugee artisans, design original products and supply them globally.
Their online shop is a haven of colourful, charming homewares that you won’t be able to resist: from delicately embroidered textiles and Middle Eastern-inspired laptop sleeves to dolls made out of waste materials from the fast fashion industry.
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SEP Jordan works with artists living in Jordan’s Jerash ‘Gaza’ refugee camp to produce hand-embroidered accessories. Inspired by Islamic architectural geometry and Palestinian heritage, the geometric designs and natural tones will add some understated elegance to your home.
The linen hand towels above add a wonderfully authentic handmade touch to a dining table scheme.
Artisan & Fox is an online marketplace where you can find sustainable and ethically-sourced crafts from local makers.
Their Handcrafted in Burkina Faso collection comes from artisans from the refugee Tuareg community of northern Mali, and showcases designs characterised by hammered metal and smooth leather, while Handcrafted by Syrian Artisans provides a source of independent income to displaced Syrian women, through the sale of colourful yet delicate shawls and clutch bags.
Artisan & Fox also offer multiple collections which support makers preserving traditional crafts in Afghanistan and Mexico.
Indego Africa partners with women in Rwanda and Ghana to create handcrafted lifestyle products made from natural local materials and using heritage techniques, with 100% of the profits going back into the community.
As the global refugee crisis continues to intensify, Indego Africa have so far provided 180 refugees with artisan training and a dignified source of income.
Handmade by refugees at the Mahama Refugee Camp in Rwanda, the Salmon Plateau is a sweetgrass basket that will make a colourful addition to an on-trend gallery wall or dining table centrepiece - and it's just one of many funky designs!
For ethical homewares that tell a story, turn to QÄSA QÄSA. Handcrafted by artisans in East Africa, all of their products juxtapose traditional techniques with contemporary designs that’ll blend seamlessly with modern, minimalist homes.
Their Tanzanian partner initiative is WomenCraft, which brings together local women and female refugees from neighbouring Burundi to weave unique placemats and decorative baskets from local materials.
Bring a touch of the outdoors in with the covetable Natural Ugwafu Tray, which will lend a touch of handmade warmth to any neutral spaces. The Ikiba Wall Basket is another favourite of ours – an intricate and classy piece of wall art to treasure for years to come.
Love Welcomes is a creative social enterprise that provides refugee women with an income and a sense of purpose thanks to one life-saving object: the life vest. Based in Greece, the team of refugee creatives completely overhaul washed-up life vests and blankets and transform them into ultra-modern homewares including mats, cushions and placemats.
As well as looking fabulous, the 'welcome mats' have a very special story behind them - they're woven from strips of life vest material and upcycled blanket fabric.
All proceeds support Syrian refugees via language lessons, computer training and transportation to essential meetings.