When you’ve lost everything, you take what you’re given. For many refugees that have fled homes, the issues of dignity, respect and freedom of choice come second place to survival. But those things, those values are massively important. To have a choice, to exercise freedom and to be treated with respect are all things that make us human. And that’s why this clothing boutique in Jordan that serves Iraqi refugees is so important.
Part of the point of the boutique is that the refugee community are in need of clothes, but in giving people a choice, and placing that choice in the context of a shop environment helps people to feel valued, and to feel that they can get back to normal life.
Lara, sorting clothes in the boutique
The boutique is an initiative run with the support of Open Doors by local Jordanian partner. It aims at serving and restoring the dignity of Iraqi refugees who fled from ISIS and are temporarily living in Jordan. It feels like an ordinary clothing shop in the Middle East; and that is exactly the intention, as staff worker Lara shares:
“In general [we work with] people who have less luck than others. We train them, we help them to recover from the shock they went through. We support them in their relational needs, train life skills and in general help them get back to normal life.”
Iraqi Christian refugees are one of the groups Lara works with. “The refugees need to eat, to dress, and to have their basic needs cared for, while they wait for their resettlement”, Lara shares. Many refugees who travel to Jordan have the intention to migrate to other countries. This is a process that can take years.
The boutique also stocks jewellery
Most Iraqi refugees don’t have an income, clothes or the ability to meet other basic needs. That is why our partner started collecting second-hand clothes for them. “When people bring these in, they just put them in garbage bags – some of the clothes are torn or are still dirty,” Lara says. “For many Iraqi refugees, having fled from good families and good situations, that is a shameful situation. They find it hard to accept the clothes that way.”
That is why the boutique was opened. “Just like in a real boutique they can come here to shop, to choose the clothes they really like, to try them on and to shop with dignity. This way, we can help to restore the dignity that was taken from them.”
Walking through the boutique, Lara points out, “All these clothes are all donated by people in Jordan. When we receive their donations we first remove the torn clothes. Then we wash or dry-clean the good clothes and hang them here. There are pants, skirts, bags and boots, but also small stuff like accessories. All presented in a proper way.”
How the clothes arrive at the boutique, before being sorted and washed
‘Buying’ clothes here is free for the refugees. With the support of Open Doors, they receive coupons that represent a certain value, based on their situation and family size. With those coupons they ‘pay’ for the clothes. Lara says this also helps them to feel human again: being able to make transactions helps them feel accepted again, after losing everything. “This is a safe place for them where they can shop, have a good time and feel like a normal member of society again.”
Pray. Pray for people like those that will use the boutique. Ask God to protect them, give them strength, and provide for all their needs. Pray for energy and wisdom for Open Doors partners working to support believers in the region. Ask God to continue to use His church in the Middle East as a light in the darkness. Get prayer resources here…
Give. Every £11 could provide a week’s worth of emergency food supplies for a displaced family in Syria. Give here…
Speak out. Sign the One Million Voices of Hope petition, calling for equality, dignity and responsibility for Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq. Ask others to sign it too. Sign now…
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