From our Saddle Pads we are regularly left with colourful remnants of the very finest cloth loden - it hurts our souls to throw them away.
So, to make use of the leftovers, we designed the Sporty, a sweet tölting Talisman.
But who should sew the Sporties? In Germany, that's not so easy. And any cheap production was out of the question. For a lucky charm, we wanted something with a deeper meaning.
For many years now, I have privately supported the Munich based aid organisation Zeltschule e.V. and i follow their work with excitement. I like the association very much because I am so convinced by the logic of its aid concept. The unwavering optimism and pragmatic philanthropy of Jacqueline Flory and her Team warms my heart and encourages me.
And because I had noticed that they now run the so-called Women's Workshops, I had an idea...
But now I'll start again from the beginning and tell you a bit about the Zeltschule
In the Lebanese-Syrian border area, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugee children and their families have been surviving in makeshift tent cities for up to 10 years. The Lebanese state only allows the refugees to exist on its soil, but provides no help in the form of any kind of organisation, food supply, water, electricity, medicine or schooling for the children. The places for the tents have to be rented.
In Syria itself, several million so-called internally displaced persons have been wandering homeless through their own country for years. There, too, the children are not being taught. School buildings were preferred targets of the bombardments in the Syrian war.
Under these circumstances, the generation that is supposed to rebuild their country after the war grows up illiterate and thus has no perspective for the future, and incidentally becomes easy victims for extremist groups.
That is why the association builds schools directly in the camps in Lebanon or in cellars and ruins in Syria using the simplest means and teaches the children there with the help of Syrian teachers who are also refugees and live in the camps. The lessons take place in three shifts so that all the
children can be taught. I have heard that the children are so enthusiastic about the lessons that some even want to cheat their way into school more often during the day. Attendance control is therefore also important in the tent schools.
The basis of the lessons is the Syrian curriculum. Five subjects are taught: Arabic, mathematics, English, science and music. Singing and dancing together helps the children overcome their traumas.
At the end of ninth grade, the children receive a valid school-leaving certificate. The children enjoy going to school and study so hard that they all graduate. The tent school is also committed to further education and has already been able to arrange apprenticeships or accommodation at Lebanese private universities. The education and empowerment of the children, but also that of their parents, creates prospects and is active peace work and terrorism prevention in one.
The tent school also offers literacy courses for women who have not yet attended schools in their home country and thus gain access to written information and active participation in society in the first place. Only through education and professional skills can the returnees rebuild a peaceful, stable and sustainable Syria.
In Lebanon, refugees are not allowed to earn money, which is why the families only have one way out to avoid starvation: they have to send their children to work, because child labour is a grey area that is not punished. So if the children are to go to school, the association has to provide the whole family with water, food, medicine, clothes and firewood.
In addition to the schools, the tent school runs the Women's Workshops directly in the camps. Here, the women learn and cultivate skills with which they can feed their families after returning to Syria. Many of the women are war widows and are neither culturally nor emotionally prepared to feed their families on their own.
The workshop prepares the women for a self-determined, independent life. With a lot of love, they make clothes for themselves and their children, but also create bags, scarves and other accessories, which the association brings back to Germany and sells in its online shop, so that the proceeds directly cover the material costs of the workshop.
There are already long waiting lists of women who would also like to join the workshop and learn the handicrafts.
Let's get back to the production of our Sporties:
They are sewn by Syrian women in the Women's Workshops! Besides financial support, this gives them a very concrete task and far-reaching perspective. I was told that the women are extremely proud of their first commercial order.
We commissioned the aid organization Zeltschule e.V with the production of our Sporties. We agreed on a unit price three times the German production price. We receive a normal invoice for this.
With the purchase of a Sporty you make a valuable contribution to the female empowerment of women on their hopeful way back home and to a dignified, self-determined life.
If you want to learn more about the work of the Tent School and the background of the refugee issue, and maybe also know how you can get involved in the aid, then you can read a lot of exciting things here. Hot tip: Jaqueline's podcast "Lage(r)bericht" is mega interesting and extremely encouraging!