The biggest achievement of this effort was that it was able to empower 1,250 girls in the Zaatari Camp. This event was to ensure that all these girls can acquire a decent means of living and can transform their lives sooner. The #LoveCoats project was a bigger success than anybody had ever thought possible. The project was announced on World Refugee Day and was spearheaded by leaders such as Farhaj Sarwar and Helen Storey. The Tiger girls welcomed this incredible change and a revolution of sorts at the Zaatari Refugee Camp with open arms. Tiger stands for These Inspiring Girls Enjoy Reading and the entire event took place in Dubai. It was during the Annual DIHAD Program in March and everyone who was a part of this endeavor feels extremely proud of what it has been able to achieve to date.
Professor Helen Storey felt incredibly humbled by the presence of the Tiger Girls and the residents of the refugee camp and how they have been soldiering through the difficult times for so long. Storey was inspired by what NRS International and Farhaj Sarwar were able to do across Pakistan and many regions of Afghanistan as well. The Annual Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition was all abuzz with the way this collaboration had turned out.
Sarwar says, “The #LoveCoats project had always been our baby. We decided that if nobody is going to help these adolescent girls live a better life through fashion and design, we are going to do it. The first step was to provide them with 1000m of blanketing material which was approved by all the relevant UN agencies as well. It was not only an effort to make their winter livable but also to help them acquire designing and sewing capabilities so that they can earn a respectable living in the future.”
But this is not it. The #LoveCoats project also organized several design workshops for all the creative minds that wanted to take this forward and build a career out of it. The entire idea was to develop a highly conducive environment for learning so that Tiger girls could develop useful skills for life. By giving them the opportunity to enhance their clothing designing skills and also empowering refugee girls to impart the same knowledge to the younger girls in the group, NRS International and Professor Storey aim to make a big difference which is very commendable.
“If hope is what we need in the world, then working with the Tiger Girls of Zaatari is where you can find it. From the moment I first met them and their coaches, it was clear that here, against all the odds, was female spirit and endeavor in abundance,” said Storey.
She explained to the girls to “aim high, as they should, and anything we can do to continue to enable and help them reach their full potential as young women will serve us all”.
Sarwar says, “This is going to create and leave behind a very remarkable legacy. This talent is going to last for generations to come and we are happy to be a part of this. Associating with Professor Storey was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we did not wish to lose it at all. We are also looking at a probable partnership with the UAE Fashion Week in the coming years to expand the #LoveCoats project further across the Middle East.”
Farhaj Sarwar – The Managing Director of NRS International actively involved in humanitarian efforts and projects all across the globe was truly inspired by the contribution made by Professor Helen Storey. He had been following the projects that she was actively involved in for several years in the past. The projects that he specifically spoke about at the event were the ones that focused on fashion and can empower women of all ages.
This was the UAE Year of Giving. NRS International could not find a better opportunity to donate 1000m of thermal blanketing material to Professor Storey who then made sure that it was made available to these girls. The UN refugee agency specifications clearly talk about a few features that this blanketing material was supposed to meet and it did. This was the reason that NRS International was able to sell 3.9 million of these same blanketing materials to some of the most coveted and leading aid agencies all across the globe.
“Professor Storey explained the fear of the refugee girls of being cold in winter. This led to our collaboration, which is in line with what we offer as a company, namely relief items. It was only a natural response to provide the blanket material. We are hugely impressed with the transformation of how one blanket can become so fashionable,” Sarwar said.
If we look at the numbers, almost 65.6 million people all around the world find themselves displaced by the ongoing refugee crisis. This is highly disturbing. It comprises:
- Close to 23 million refugees, and counting, (which is the highest ever)
- More than 11 million are under the age of 18
- Out of these close to 41 million stateless/internally displaced people
- A shocking 3 million are classified as asylum seekers
- According to statistics, on average, 1.2 persons in 113 persons all around the world are displaced
Sarwar says, “Close to 20 people are being displaced forcibly every minute and this is a result of conflict or persecution based on religion or race or other factors. We have to do something about it.”
Close to 55% of refugees in the world come from the following countries:
- Syria: 5.5 million
- Afghanistan: 2.5 million
- South Sudan: 1.4 million
Countries Where the displaced refugees are being hosted
- Turkey: 2.9 million
- Pakistan: 1.4 million
- Lebanon: 1 million
- Iran: 979,400
- Uganda: 940,800
- Ethiopia: 791,600
“We thought that World Refugee Day will be an auspicious occasion to commence with this endeavor. We were already aware that this event comprised several small events within it across more than 100 countries. The biggest reason that we decided to pick this date is that it involved government officials, celebrities, civilians, and aid agencies from all over the world. We wanted to make sure that the plight of these girls came into the sight of these influential personalities and agencies so that they would be encouraged to do something about them. We understand that this effort is not as big as we would have wanted but it is a start nonetheless. We aim to make it bigger in the future so that we can give a more fulfilling and prosperous life to every refugee out there and maybe eradicate the term altogether.”