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When a mine exploded in Western Turkey in 2014, 300 men were killed. Another 2300 men were laid off from work as other mines in the area closed. Widows were left without livelihood; thousands of children in homes without income. The explosion affected farming in the area; and with no other industry, there was very little hope. 

What women in this culture know how to do is handwork. Lace-making (Oya) and embroidery are their background. Yildiz Yagci started there, with these unique skills women already had in their possession, full of meaning and history, and began to dream of building from these skills a sustainable income for their families. She called it Soma Artisans.

In Soma, two dozen women began to work with needle and thread and community, coming together to support one another and to rebuild their lives. 185 women are now on the waiting list, hoping to also join this group.

Yildiz and the Soma Artisans have requested of our Ibu Foundation a workshop to train them in design and techniques, including garment instruction, further expanding and elevating their skills with an eye to the western market. A couture seamstress from the London Theatre agrees to come and help them craft patterns, develop ideas, and establish a flourishing cooperative.  

We Are Ibu is providing a sustained training for these women, encouraging the growth of their abilities and expanding their repertoire. The women find great refuge in this work, in one another, and in a world that celebrates their tradition. And we find great joy in the beauty they create, the new hope that, with them, we share.

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Photos by Kerem Uzel