Imagine fleeing in fear from your home. Imagine risking your life on a perilous ocean crossing with only a life jacket.
After nearly a decade of conflict in Syria, thousands of refugees have fled to neighbouring countries only to be put in refugee camps with limited employment opportunities. Love Welcomes works with Syrian refugees in Greece to help them build a better future through income generation skills, a future full of hope and purpose.
Women in refugee camps are trained to weave stunning products, such as welcome mats, out of old life vests. Transforming the humble life vest into a symbol of new hope, these products are sold around the world as an inspirational reminder of the value of human life.
Proceeds from each sale go directly to the woman who wove it, women like Thaura. All profits are used to support refugees including language lessons, computer training and transportation to things like lawyer meetings or going to the market to buy food. Our aim is to empower refugees to support themselves and their families through employable skills, providing them with dignity and the ability to positively contribute to society.
When you buy a product from Love Welcomes, you’re not only providing a refugee with a sense of purpose and dignity, you’re also supporting a family in their time of greatest need. Our goal is to raise awareness of the irreplaceable value of a loving welcome which everyone needs, especially those looking for a home.
Launched in 2017 by Thistle Farms, Love Welcomes was created in response to the refugee crisis witnessed first-hand by a Thistle Farms board member in refugee camps in Greece. Becca Stevens, President and founder of Thistle Farms, came up with the idea of weaving welcome mats from life vests as a way for women in the refugee camps to generate income for themselves.
Becca and Abi, then Global Director of Thistle Farms, spent a year developing the product before traveling to Greece, in 2017 to teach women how to weave welcome mats in partnership with a local charity called I AM YOU.
We’re excited to witness real stories of real lives being changed as a result of our supporters shopping online at Love Welcomes. So far:
- 16 women now have jobs, enabling them to support themselves and their families.
- 48 women in total have been in employed since the beginning of the project
- 32 former Love Welcomes weavers have been permanently relocated across Europe with employable weaving skills.
- More than 3,600 mats have been created for sale as of November 2019
- Another five new products have been added and additional training is provided
This is just the beginning.
Every life changed is something to be celebrated. But with the ongoing refugee crisis, we’re passionate about coming alongside even more women living in refugee camps. Together with your support, we can show them the love everyone needs as they begin to rebuild their lives.