She has the talent to change her world.
You have the choice to help her do it.
WEFTshop is a not-for-profit organisation committed to supporting refugee women from Burma living on the border with Thailand by developing their skills as textile artisans. The fabrics they make are the key to our work and to the freedom and financial well-being of many of these women and their families.
The women, from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, use traditional skills such as hand weaving, appliqué and metal beadwork and we work hand-in-hand to create contemporary designs for the Australian market that feature their unique skills and textiles.
Creating beautiful textile designs are one of the few ways women who have fled persecution by the Burmese military regime can access a fair wage.
“The bags and children’s clothes I make on my treadle machine help me support 15 people”
– Yah Mi (pictured above)
“Weaving for Weftshop helps me learn about my culture and provides for my family.”
– Naw Naw (also pictured above)
Buying Weftshop’s handwoven textiles and handmade products helps support women and their families to buy nutritious food, medicine and other essential household goods so important to achieving a basic standard of living. It also helps Weftshop run product development and marketing workshops with the support of women’s groups on the Thai-Burma border. The purpose of these workshops is to help refugee women artisans develop the skills and knowledge needed to create more marketable products for selling in Australia. Our aim is to support cottage industry capable of delivering sustainable income while also promoting traditional textile skills.
Weftshop’s collection of products ranges from natural dye textiles and weaving in the form of scarves, shawls, table runners, cushions, bags and wall hangings, to children’s clothing, dolls and pieces of beautiful woven and embroidered fabric in a variety of colours.
Background on the Thai-Burma border refugee situation
There are approximately 140,000 ethnic-minority refugees, who have fled human rights abuses in Burma, living in Thailand’s nine camps along the Thai-Burma border. They are dependent on subsistence-level humanitarian assistance and the majority have limited or no means to provide for themselves and their families. They are dependent on nutritionally inadequate monthly rations, and there is a lack of space in crowded camps for refugees to produce vegetables and livestock. As a result, between 5–40 per cent of refugees seek work outside camp confines to earn enough money to buy fresh food and other essential household goods such as clothing and medicine, exposing them to greatly increased levels of vulnerability and personal risk. Any refugee caught outside his or her camp is considered an illegal migrant and liable to arrest and deportation.
As security is a well-known barrier to women’s livelihoods, home-based cottage industry can provide income in a safe environment, while also allowing women to care for children.
Many refugees have been forced to live in camps on the Thai-Burma border for as many as 17 years with no durable solution in sight. The lack of economic opportunity often results in increases in domestic violence and alcohol abuse. Women also face particular risks such as resorting to harmful behaviour to survive, including prostitution and trading sex for food. Livelihood strategies, such as income-generation training, food-for-work programs, self-employment opportunities and business start-up programs, can play an important part in reducing these risks.
Communication 100% 100%Quality 100% 100%Timeliness 100% 100%