Manal Masoud (L) cuts an old cloth at a workshop in Sweida, southern Syria, July 3, 2022. (Photo by Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua)
by Hummam Sheikh Ali
SWEIDA, Syria, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- After eleven years of Syrian war have brought immeasurable suffering and pain to Syrians, a group of local women have found a way to heal their broken hearts and strive for a meaningful life by creating art works out of recycled rags.
A few years ago, Khloud Hnaidi, a middle-aged woman from the southern Syrian city of Sweida, started a project to rework old rags into usable items such as table cloths, rugs and decorative artworks.
She was driven by her love for art and a desire to revive an old tradition of recycling shabby rags, particularly amid the economic hardships facing Syria.
Many women from across the country have joined Hnaidi's workshop to develop weaving skills, and formed a close bond by sharing their own stories. The friendship between them has inspired Hnaidi to call on more women to share their stories by making art works out of recycled rags.
Everyone has gone through something and has their own stories, particularly during the war, Hnaidi told Xinhua. "It's special because they didn't know each other before. Each of them started introducing herself through her story about her life, her children and husband, or the place she came from."
Following years of the women's artistic creation, nowadays, the workshop has its main hall festooned with paintings done on rags, each presented with small captions about the artist's story.
The project has helped the participants plow through tough times and address their psychological stress -- some stemming from the war, and some from their family.
"Starting with me and everyone else in this place, we all made strides either in our way of thinking or the way we see life. So, I see this place as a place for support," the initiator said.
Manal Masoud, a Syrian woman in her late thirties, once suffered from domestic violence, as her husband hit her in the head, causing memory loss. She couldn't remember what had happened until her memory recovered a few months later and she got divorced, while her husband made up a lie that she had fallen off a ladder while she was cleaning.
Masoud made a painting of the ladder to release her grievances. Such an outlet for negative emotions made her feel much better.
"There is more than just telling your story or expressing pain, it's hearing other stories and trying to help people who might be more hurt than you. So you feel that you are not alone. The place is so comfortable," she told Xinhua.
Empowerment and support for women are crucial for building a better society, and the project has great meaning to those who took part in it, Hanan Radwan, Hnaidi's partner in the project, told Xinhua.
Women are encouraged to stand up for themselves instead of just staying home or relying on someone else for help, she added, highlighting the initial intention of the workshop. ■
Manal Masoud shows an artwork at a workshop in Sweida, southern Syria, July 3, 2022. (Photo by Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua)
Khloud Hnaidi speaks during an interview about a project to rework old rags into usable items such as table cloths, rugs and decorative artworks, in Sweida, southern Syria, July 3, 2022. (Photo by Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua)