Refugee Sewing Community
〣 Location: Malaysia
〣 No of Artisans: 6
〣 Specialty Skill: Stitching & Sewing
"I have many (dreams & hopes)! But (out of the many) I try to be a good father for my children and a good husband to my wife. And this will not be possible, except with effort. My biggest hope is for my children - for them to be on the right path, with a good education and to lead a good life. They don't need a lot, they are contented."
- Mr JS, Leading Artisan
Meeting JS was a godsend and his positive outlook of life is an inspiration to many. Originally from Afghanistan, JS fled his home at a very young age to escape conflict and persecution. He has spent most of his life in Iran and is now a United Nations (UN) Refugee based in Malaysia for the past five years. Over the years, he has accumulated many hopes and dreams, both for him and his family of four. But one hope remained constant - to provide for his family, for his children to get a good education, be on the right path and lead a good life.
However, his resolve was tested during the COVID-19 pandemic in mid 2020. When nation-wide movement restrictions kicked in to curb the spread of the virus, it became incredibly hard to stay financially afloat as he lost his job during that time and earned zero income. In desperation, the family resorted to receiving food aid from non-profit organisations. During those times, what kept him going were the support from his children and his wife. "Better days are yet to come." he chimed in.
Working at the tender age of eleven after his father passed away, JS picked up sewing and stitching from his elder brother. From pattern-making, cutting, sewing, ironing up to its final trimmings - all these gradually became second nature to JS.
When asked what does he hope to achieve with his tailoring and sewing, he added "I wish that one day I will have a factory with many employees and finally see (and get to experience first-hand) the fruit of my work. I hope that one day, I can be free - to be able to work freely."
Following 6 months since partnering JS, he has expanded his team to include 5 tailors in the refugee community. Truly, his dream is one that inspires, his work ethic and determination definitely one that humbles us all.
Update: Mr JS and his family have finally found a new permanent home as citizens! After being refugees for about 7 years, they've been accepted into a new home country. We are extremely glad for him and so proud of all that he's contributed in the last few years we've partnered. Moving forward, he will be handing over operations to Mr JW, whom we're excited to continue this partnership with. Looking forward to greater things with the team!
Shop from this artisan community:
Windmill Babydoll Dress
Aurelie Crop Top
On days where he is found not sewing, he loves bringing his youngest son out for a friendly match of soccer with the other refugee community families. Apart from family picnics at the beaches and jungle hiking, JS is putting in the hours to brush up on his English language as a self achievement milestone.
At Barehands, one of our goals is to see people like JS thrive; to see them fulfill their potential and make their dream a reality. With a double edged sword of exceptional sewing skills and an inner resolve to love and provide the best for his family, we hope to partner alongside JS by spotlighting his beautiful work, connecting him to our network of resources and eventually seeing his lifelong dream come to fruition!
Special thanks to Annice Lyn for capturing these beautiful moments at the home of JS and his family.
As part of World Refugee Day, our founders, Chanel and Germaine, spoke with our refugee artisan, JS, and his daughter, ZR, on all things life. Watch our two-part IGTV series below!