Jeddah is teeming with an incredible amount of creative talent, and it is always interesting to see that creativity turn into a larger community building effort. Earlier this month Anousha Vakani met with two very inspiring ladies, Diana Rayyan and Ishrat Khawja, who make up part of Jeddah’s creative brigade that has used art as a path to a better Jeddah.
Trash + Crochet = Trochet
Two years ago Diana Rayyan, the brains behind this initiative in Jeddah, was inspired by an awareness lecture that focused on the ill-effects of plastic on the environment. Initially, she did her bit by spreading the word on what she knew about plastics and the environment but was convinced that more could and should be done.
After researching all possibilities she decided to launch a project that recycled plastic bags through crochet. She took it one step further and turned it into a charity initiative. The idea is to teach needy women how to crochet, to introduce them to the idea of recycling plastic and other materials through this art and to encourage them to earn an income in this way.
Diana explains that in the beginning people were (and some still are) sceptical that a product that is spun from what is essentially trash could be successful, many of them insisting that “trash is trash.” If anything, such an attitude only heightens the need for awareness and environmental projects in this society.
The Trochet (trash + crochet) project was launched through the organization Ateeq which operates under the slogan of ‘mind to hand’. I found this slogan more than appropriate as Diana explained how Ishrat, “the creative guru”, eagerly agreed to translate Diana’s vision to substance through her crochet skills.
Ishrat Khawja is a blogger and crochet designer under her own brand Fruitful Fusion. She has been blogging about the challenges that come with crocheting with strips of plastic, and describes the pilot workshop that took place at the Rawaj Center, a part of Majid Society.The pilot workshop was a success in many ways, but as Ishrat explains, the community building aspect stood out most as “women from different backgrounds are brought together by a common language – the language being crochet terms”.
Diana agrees that the social aspect of this project is the most “spiritual”. She adds that “people have to remember that it’s not always about the end result, it is about the process.” It amazed her that pilot workshop was more of a “dialogue than a monologue” with the women enthusiastically throwing in their own thoughts and ideas.
What amazed me most, however, was the amount of productivity that can be rolled into one project. Not only is this an incredible integration of art and the environment but its impact on society is far-reaching, with an increase in earning opportunities for needy women and an increased awareness of very pressing environmental issues.
The Trochet project is currently in need of volunteers to help and support the needy women, to teach crochet and to come up with suitable Trochet designs. Volunteers are also invited to come in and help with whatever they can, including the preparation of Trochet materials and packaging, because as they put it,“there is always something to do!”
If you’re interested in volunteering or would like more details, email Diana or Ishrat at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, follow them on twitter at Ateeq and Fruitful Fusion and on Facebook at Ateeq and Fruitful Fusion.