Press Release – Adiyaman, Turkey––March 14, 2017––The Anka Cooperative empowers Syrian women refugees by providing dignifying work creating fine carpets and traditional crafts in a safe workplace for fair compensation.
In 2012, when co-founder Neslihan Jevremovic started the cooperative, 10,000 refugees lived in Turkey. In just five years, as the Syrian conflict raged, this number swelled to over 3 million. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of these refugees struggle to find the work necessary to support their families and provide meaning in their own lives.
“Teaching women how to weave affects them personally. They are providing income for the whole family, so it changes their whole attitude about themselves.” – Co-founder Neslihan
Anka currently empowers 250 weavers in two camps. Only 30 miles from the Syrian border, the Sanliurfa camp is home to one of the oldest refugee camps in Turkey. The residents live in air-conditioned 20-foot shipping containers with their family members. The Anka weaving workshop currently empowers 25 refugees in an air-conditioned, well-lit activity center. The Adiyaman camp is home to nearly 30,000 refugees, and Anka empowers 225 women working in six air-conditioned, well-lit weaving tents. Now, the team is turning to Kickstarter to sell their existing, high quality rugs and raise awareness about this initiative. The funds raised will allow Anka to expand into a third camp and enable even more Syrian women refugees in 2017. Every $7,500 raised will empower and employ one refugee for over 8 months.
The Anka Cooperative has already had an extraordinary impact on women’s lives. One of these women is Neriman, from Damascus, is in her early 40s and has six children. Unlike many of her unfortunate relatives, she made it safely to the Adiyaman refugee camp in Southeastern Turkey. Neriman is college educated, and prior to the war she worked for many years as an accountant. But in the camps, of course, there are no accounting jobs, no freelancer websites to apply her trade. Idle time brings painful memories. She jumped at the chance to work at the carpet workshop. It’s a new skill, but she is learning – and just as important, she is earning.
Neriman is paid the same as her Turkish counterparts. She is saving to buy gold earrings for her daughters, and hopes to save for a home for when they return to Syria. Her smile shines despite the tragedy she has faced, and she is very grateful to have the chance to work again. Neriman is one of 250 women employed by The Anka Cooperative. Together, Neriman and Anka have found the key to alleviating the suffering – if you want to empower refugees, employ them. Neriman represents the 250 Anka weavers who have chosen to make the best of their difficult circumstances, and are the reason Anka exists.
“After seeing the heartbreaking image of young Aylan Kurdi on a beach in Turkey, not far from where I swam with my young daughter that same summer, I knew I had to help these desperate people in a sustainable fashion. We’re teaching these women to fish, not simply giving them fish.” – Co-founder Josh
The Anka Cooperative is a social enterprise in association with award-winning US rug producer Woven Legends. Anka rugs are of the absolute highest quality – handcrafted with handspun wool and natural dyes. An 8’x10’ rug is made of over 500,000 knots.
All proceeds from this Kickstarter campaign will be used to sell existing and create new rugs, further Anka’s mission, train more women, and provide health and educational assistance to refugee families. In exchange for pledges, backers can receive gorgeous carpet coasters, framed carpet fragments, hand woven Christmas stockings, and the empowering rugs themselves. The 30 day Kickstarter campaign will run from March 14th to April 13th.
ABOUT THE ANKA COOPERATIVE
In both Turkish and Arabic, ‘Anka’ translates to ‘Phoenix’, the mythical bird which obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor.
The Anka Cooperative empowers Syrian refugees to create a dignified path to self-empowerment and cultural integration through the creation of fine carpets and traditional crafts. Anka does this by training them in the ancient art of weaving rugs by hand while furnishing a safe workplace, fair compensation, and fulfilling employment. The weavers love their work, not only for the income it provides, but also for the companionship and a place to share laughs and to stay active.
Anka’s mission is to empower and educate over 20,000 refugees by the year 2020. They will accomplish this not only by expanding their operations into new locations and into new products, but also by partnering with leading charities and social enterprises to improve the lives of those most vulnerable.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE ANKA COOPERATIVE