The Jewelry Line Helping Refugee Women Support Their Families

Shayma holds the tear-dropped shaped earring in her hand, and leans in close to show me how the knot is made. Twice she wraps a coral colored string around the top and threads it through. Then she shows me how to make the pattern, weaving different colored thread around the form until shes satisfied. Finally she holds out the earring for me to admire: it fits perfectly into the palm of her small hand. These earrings and the dozens of others she makes every day as part of her job at the womens social enterprise Small Projects Istanbul will be sold online at Their marketing tagline? Drop Earrings, Not Bombs.

Shayma fled from her home in Mosul after the Iraqi city was taken over by ISIS. She has lived in Istanbul with her husband and five children for three years, and found work at the Small Projects Istanbul, an independent NGO that operates a community center for displaced Syrians and Iraqis. In addition to providing daycare and educational and technical training classes, Small Projects has its own womens social enterprise, The Muhra Store, where displaced women who have moved to Istanbul are hired and taught how to handcraft jewelry and clothing. Proceeds from all sales go directly back to the makers, allowing the women to make money to support their families, a huge help considering how hard it is for refugees to find legal work in Turkey.


Bosphorous Earrings


Wings In Motion Crane Clutch


Qissa Earrings


Courageous Voices Tee, Um Kalthoum


We Weave Bracelet


Rumi Kaftan


Trinket Tassel Necklaces


Hawaa Woven Purse


After Shayma teaches me how to make the earrings, she takes out her phone to show me photos of her family. Here is her husband, whom she thinks is as handsome as the day they first met. Here is her son at his engagement party in Iraq, dancing in a line with his friends. She wasnt allowed to attend the party because she does not have a re-entry visa for Turkey. Do you ever miss home? I ask, scrolling through her photos. “Every night I think about my old house and cry myself to sleep,” Shayma says. She wants to go back, if only for a visit, but her family refuses because theres not much to go back to—Mosul was all but destroyed by ISISs