Refugee-made gifts: six brands that support displaced artisans

Buying homeware and decor items crafted by refugees helps displaced people start new lives

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Behind the scenes of the Burkina Faso refugee collection

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.

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Refugees leave behind everything they’ve worked for, including their livelihood, so the opportunity to  earn 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 – and Christmas shopping is the perfect opportunity to support these brands.

With that in mind, we’ve put together this list of six brands that bring wonderful refugee-made products to you…


MADE51

Founded by the UN Refugee Agency, MADE51 is your go-to destination for home décor and accessories made by refugee artisans.

MADE51 partners with local social enterprises to identify talented refugee artisans, design original products and supply them globally.

Their newly launched online shop is a haven of colourful, charming homewares that you won’t be able to resist: from delicately embroidered textiles to Middle Eastern inspired laptop sleeves to dolls made out of waste materials from the fast fashion industry.

SEP Jordan

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 Bread-Basket brings a stylish edge to storage solutions or can be used to encompass unsightly plant pots. For the living room, we love the Putrajaya Cushion Cover, which adds a striking pop of burgundy and orange to an otherwise neutral space.

Artisan & Fox

Artisan & Fox is an online marketplace focussed on sustainable and ethically-sourced crafts from local makers. They offer two refugee-made collections: Burkina Faso and Threads of Syria.

The Burkina Faso collection is handcrafted by artisans from the Tuareg community of northern Mali. Hammered metal and smooth leather fuse harmoniously in one of a kind jewellery and home décor pieces.

Threads of Syria is a joint initiative by Artisan & Fox and Tight-Knit Syria, which provides a source of independent income to displaced Syrian women. They adorn cotton T-shirts with exquisite embroidery inspired by their home country. The Golden Amal Tee reflects the women’s belief in a better future for them and their families, with the word ‘Amal’ meaning ‘hope’ in Syrian Arabic.

All proceeds from both collections go the refugees and their wider camp community.

Indego Africa

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 Burundian refugees at the Mahama Refugee Camp in Rwanda, the Pink Swirl Plateau is a sweetgrass basket that will make a colourful addition to an on-trend gallery wall. It can take one weaver anywhere from 60 to 70 hours to make each tightly coiled basket – a product that is truly worth every penny.

 

WomenCraft

The WomenCraft initiative in Tanzania 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 Ugwafu Lustre Tablemats, which have a natural green lustre to them and bring warmth to 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.