My Story

Participants from each partner country have their own stories to tell, and each of them speaks about different places and cultures: their country of origin, the place they have settled in now, and the other cultures they met along the way. Handcrafts can play an important role in integrating into a new setting as they are an immediate means to share the cultural heritage they carried with them along this journey. The participants have an extremely varied background in handcrafts with influences from across the world.  Meet them!

Europe

Rosy

Italy, participated in Italy

“I am a tailor and fashion designer from Sicily. I started as a little girl when I created dresses for dolls. At 18 I realized this could be the job of my life and I started studying. I have worked as a tailor since then. Now I also teach tailoring, from the design of the dress to the final product. This course allowed me to meet very different realities. I was the only Italian person and this was really good for me. It was a path of growth in my job thanks to the fact that I met very creative people. Each of us have an infinity of ideas inside and create things that are really beautiful. This encounter helped me find a new originality in my work. Also learning to create a portfolio/CV was very useful for me because it’s something that I hadn’t paid much attention to.”

Joanna

Poland, participated in UK

“I come from Poland and I took part in the first series of local workshops in March 2020. I have been crafting for a while and my favourite crafts are textiles and knitting. I have re-designed and altered many pieces of clothing, knitted scarves, gloves, and headbands. I have also attempted more difficult designs. After the workshops I decided to explore selling my products online, via online stores like Etsy.”

Phivi

Cyprus, participated in Cyprus

 “My name is Phivi Antoniou. Both my professional life, as well as leisure activities, revolves around learning, creating and exploring. I am an elementary school teacher, an artist and a researcher. I love motivating myself and my students to keep evolving, setting higher goals and working towards their realisation. Creativity and critical thinking are key skills that I always do my best to apply in everything I do.”

Ramune

National minority, Polish origin, participated in Lithuania

“I played sports all my life, taught children to swim, and also had to occupy them with handicrafts. There were no materials in Soviet times, so we started cutting snowflakes, angels from scrap paper. We started making postcards from used materials. I like to share my ideas with others, and especially like to create handicrafts from used materials, to resurrect to a second life.”

Sigita

National minority, Polish origin, participated in Lithuania

“I started knitting at the age of 6. I really like drawing, gluing, cutting, as well as baking cakes.

I plan to share my knitting work through Facebook, the local community, to help the Samaritans.”

Aiste

Lithuanian, participated in Lithuania

“I was interested in handicrafts all the time. I like to knit, crochet and I am interested in decoupage. I like to try new handicrafts such as decoupage of glassware, making beetles from glass beads and leather. I have a lot of experience in making handicrafts, I could pass it on to others, through the local community, associations for the disabled and the Samaritans.”

Regina

National minority, Polish origin, participated in Lithuania

“I come from a Polish family, married to a Tatar man. I inherited a lot of culinary heritage from my husband. Tartar dishes are very popular in Lithuania, such as kibinas, cabbage buns. Now I could pass on this experience to others. I like to learn knitting, simple knits like socks, brooches, hats and so on. I am happy to join the activities of the Samaritans and help the seniors.”

Danute

National minority, Polish origin, participated in Lithuania

“I am Danute from Poland. I have always known how to knit because my mother taught me, but now I don’t have time to do it anymore.”

Ailda

Albania, participated in UK

“My name is Ailda and I come from Albania. I am an amateur crafter and for now I treat crafting as a hobby. I enjoy painting Kindness Rocks with acrylic paints, but I am always happy to try other crafts. I enjoy challenging myself.”

Popi

Cyprus, participated in Cyprus

“Hello, my name is Popi Anthrakopoulou. I am from Cyprus and I have learnt making jewellery on my own!”

Lina

Lithuanian, participated in Lithuania

“I’ve always been interested in handicrafts, but I didn’t always have the time. Now that I have a disability, I can devote more time to needlework.”

Natalja

Russian, participated in Lithuania

“My grandmother taught me handicraft-knitting. Grandma and mom tried to knit for the whole family to make us look exceptional, and it was cheaper than buying knitwear. Grandma taught me to knit traditional Russian knitwear with ornaments. Now I knit for my family, kids, granddaughter and friends.”

Middle East

Shapoor

Afghanistan, participated in Italy

“I come from Afghanistan and work as a cook, but I also have my handicraft shop. I create things with lots of different materials: wood, iron, cotton, paper, beans, even toothpicks, and I also started working with bones. When I travelled to Turkey, I collected many ideas and materials to bring to Europe. In my shop I create things but I also repair damaged objects and give new life to things that people throw away. I started making crafts during a time when I was unemployed because I don’t like free time, I always need to do stuff. I work with lots of different materials, basically everything I come across. People bring their stuff to my shop, and I use my creativity to give them a new life. I like to get ideas from other people, including those who bring their stuff to my shop. This is what this course was for me: I learned from other people and they also learned from me. When you build things together, they have more value.”

Sara

Iran, participated in Cyprus

“My name is Sara and I’m from Iran. I make jewellery and also work with leather to make bags and wallets. Here for the first time I am doing lefkaritiko”.

M.E.

Syria, participated in Greece

M.E. from Syria is always fascinated by discovering new things and this is actually the reason she decided to attend the courses. As she has highlighted, the MyHandScraft learning path was more useful to her than attending school as it equips her with practical experience. She was always on time for the workshop and participated in all activities. Her willingness to learn was such that she was taking notes while local handcrafters were delivering the techniques, and then she completed her product autonomously.

A.T.

Afghanistan, participated in Greece

A.T. coming from Afghanistan wishes to learn sewing clothes since she likes the process and wants to learn sewing her own clothes. She is not attending school, neither does she do any extracurricular activity. Additionally, she has no experience in the handicraft sector. She has basic knowledge of English and Greek. She really enjoyed the MyHandScraft E-Educational programme and wishes to continue as she learnt a lot, especially on sewing. Definitely she is ready to start creating extraordinary things.

F.A.

Afghanistan, participated in Greece

F.A. from Afghanistan enrolled the workshop out of curiosity as she had a lot of spare time. She did not expect to find it that interesting and to learn so many new things. It is difficult for her to try new things, but this time she was really happy she did it. She is excited for the upcoming creations. As she mentioned, these workshops introduced her to a whole new world and helped her discover things for herself and skills she could never imagine she had.

M.A.

Afghanistan, participated in Greece

M.A. coming from Afghanistan enjoys her time working with handicraft creations especially now that she is not working or attending school. She understands basic terms in both Greek and English. After she completed the workshops, she mentioned that she really enjoyed the activities and will definitely continue taking part in the following courses. Additionally, as she highlighted, she acquired skills and techniques that will help her in the future to work in the handicraft sector. She underscored the fact that she gets bored easily when doing an activity but on this particular handicraft course she really counted the days for the next one to come.

M.Y.

Iraq, participated in Greece

M.Y. from Iraq had some experience with handicraft, as she was working for a textile company back in Iraq. She believes practicing what she already knows and acquiring new skills will be useful for her in her later life. She aims to create her own clothes to help people in need. She participated in all activities and enjoyed especially the jewellery workshops, as she learned techniques she had no idea of. Additionally, through this project, she managed to get to know the rest of the girls and socialize.

Sayed

Afghanistan, participated in UK

“My name is Sayed and I come from Afghanistan. I came to the UK to look for a quiet and easier life. In Afghanistan I had most experience with paper craft. I was making 3D models. I enjoy working with paper for model making and Origami.”

Sub-Saharan Africa

Peace

Nigeria, participated in Italy

“I am from Nigeria, Edo state. Ever since I was in Nigeria, I did handicrafts to save money. I grew up in an environment where there is a lot of craftsmanship. I used to watch other artisans and then try to replicate things at home. Here in Italy, I work in agriculture but I also make handicrafts to express myself. I do things for myself as an opportunity to express what I have inside. I had very basic knowledge of handicrafts before I started this course. I never had the opportunity to study and grow. I know how to do graphic design but when I came to the first meeting, I didn’t know what I was going to create. I was inspired by the materials I saw and I did something that I had never done before: a purse made from a recycled tin. I never thought that I could do something like this.”

Omar

Gambia, participated in Italy

“I come from Gambia and I am 22 years old. In my country I was a carpenter. Ever since I came here, I started doing art like painting and drawing. I also attended a mechanical school where I learned to do technical design. Here in Italy, I also learned to be a tailor as part of a group named Giocherenda. The first time I went there I started using scraps of fabric and putting together Italian and African fabric to create backpacks and accessories. I am very curious and I always like to try new materials. Before I started this course, I was already part of a group of tailors, Giocherenda. In the course I learned how other people do things. I was very curious about the things that others do, everything they do is beautiful and I wanted to learn a lot from them. If we put our things together, we can create something very beautiful.”

Alima

Burkina Faso, participated in Italy

“I come from Burkina Faso.  I was born in Ghana and my family is from there but I also lived in Cote D’Ivoire. The work of my family is tailoring. This was always our job and I did it ever since I was a child. I brought to Italy a lot of things from my history. I like to teach people my traditions and learn from them as well. Here I learned many things and changed my ideas. My customs and traditions are different from Italian customs, and if I put some of that knowledge in my work, I can create something new.”

Souleymane

Côte d’Ivoire, participated in Italy

“I come from Cote d’Ivoire. I am a tailor but I didn’t want to do this job. I wanted to study electronics, but my family didn’t have the money to pay for the school. I was born in a family of tailors, so I learned in the shop of a family friend. In Italy I started working as a caregiver for the elderly to save some money, and this is how I opened my own shop here in Palermo. I worked from home fixing and creating clothes for a while, and then I opened my shop as part of ALAB, an association of artisans in Palermo. At first, I didn’t have the criteria to be part of the association, but then I managed to have them and now I am part of this network. This course opened my mind. There were a lot of things that I didn’t know or didn’t like. I learned a lot from my peers. Now these guys walk by my shop and we have a relationship.”

Osman

Sierra Leone, participated in Cyprus

“My name is Osman Conteh. I live in Larnaca, and I come from Sierra Leone, west Africa. I’m easy to work with and easy to understand and live in any environment but above all I’m a team worker. My slogan is ‘Knowledge is light’. In the past, I used to work in my native country, Africa to be precise.”

Kelvin

Nigeria, participated in Cyprus

“My name is Kelvin. I make sandals and I had never known how to do lefkaritiko. After this training I’ll be able to teach it to other people and also take it back to my country, Nigeria.”

E.E

Congo, participated in Greece

“E. from Congo started the course without any previous knowledge of handicrafts. Here she learned how to saw masks, bags and purses, and she also learned how to use the sewing machine to make clothes. Now she wants to open a tailoring shop together with other people where she can continue making her creations and also help other people”

I.A.

Somalia, participated in Greece

I.A. from Somalia aims to learn how to make clothes either by using the sewing or the knitting technique. She attends school but she tried to make time for both activities. Having a basic knowledge in both English and Greek, it was easy for her to understand some things trainers explained faster than the rest of the group. She is excited to continue learning about both techniques and create her own outfits. In the future she sees the prospect of working on these techniques professionally.

Cecylia

Gambia, participated in UK

“In Gambia I had little experience in crafting, but I joined the workshops to learn something new and meet people. I enjoyed pebble painting and macramé sessions. Workshops gave me something to do and helped me feel better about myself.”

Memory

Zimbabwe, participated in UK

“I come from Africa and this is reflected in the colours and materials I use. I love yellow, red and orange tones because they remind me of home. In Africa we do not waste anything! We reuse and give everyday items a new lease of life by upcycling and repurposing. I always look forward to learning new upcycling methods.”

P.N.

Congo, participated in Greece

P.N. from Congo started the course with no high expectations, yet during the workshops her mindset shifted completely. Although she could not communicate neither in Greek nor in English, she took valuable things from the workshops and feels fully confident to use them at a professional level. As she mentions, not only did she acquire new skills, but developed strong bonds with other attendees of the project that she lives with. It is important to her that she stepped out of her comfort zone both in professional and psychological terms.

North Africa

Mustafa

Egypt, participated in UK

“I come from Egypt where my first experience of craft was in childhood. Every year we used to make the Ramadan lanterns called Fanous. Although this is a very traditional craft, you could let your imagination run wild with materials, colours and design. We used coloured sheets of plastic, plastic bags, wood and paint to create the lanterns. I would like to learn more crafts so I can pass the skills to my future children and to create nice things for my family.”

Latin America

Mauge

Chile, participated in Italy

“My name is Maria Eugenia but people in Chile call me Mauge and I really like this name. I come from Chile and I grew up in Santiago, near the Andes. I’m a psychologist and I have a passion for crochet but I can also knit. I started when I was very young thanks to my grandmother, who used to make little crochet objects, and to my mom who taught me to knit. Later I studied with a teacher who taught me many new techniques, and I was also part of a group of women for three years that allowed me to learn a lot. Creating things helps me concentrate. I have been doing crochet and knitting for a very long time. In this course I learned that everyone has their creativity. Interculturality enriches what you do and I think that something really good can come from the encounter of many different cultures: African, South American, Sicilian.”

South East Asia

Benigno

Philippines, participated in Cyprus

“My name is Benigno and I’m from the Philippines. It’s really good to learn something that is from here. I the future I want to focus on recycled materials and also teach to other people how to recycle.”

Hazel

Philippines, participated in Cyprus

“My name is Hazel and I’m from the Philippines. I usually do sewing and I make things like patchwork. I am very interested in Cypriot traditional handicraft and in the future maybe I can do it as a business.”

Armelita

Philippines, participated in Cyprus

“My name is Armelita and I’m from the Philippines. We are sharing some paper folding techniques from the Philippines, which are useful to recycle paper waste and can also become a business.”