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OAK Creative Designs currently employs 31 exceptional women who are the backbone of our company.  Not only do these women create our beautiful designs, but they also exemplify the qualities that our company values.  Here are a few stories of the inspiring artisans of OAK Creative Designs.
 
Amal

Raising children and helping them become successful academically is a challenging task for any family. Refugee families, however, face many additional social, financial and language barriers while trying to navigate the education system in their new homes. Helping their children not only succeed in school, but also enter university, is a true testament of resilience and hard work.

An example of a woman who exemplifies these traits is one of our group leaders, Amal. Originally from Aleppo, her family had to escape to Kayseri, Turkey in 2015 due to the war in Syria. Amal is a mother of 5 children – 3 of whom are studying at University. One of her daughters is also currently studying medicine in Gaziantep, Turkey.

Amal has been part of the OAK Creative Designs team for the past 4 years. She teaches and manages 13 women in our team. Amal is also one of our most skilled artisans. She has been the creative force behind designing some of our unique playsets and dolls.
 
Sana

Leaving one’s homeland is not an easy decision for anyone. When a family decides to leave everything that they are familiar with and enter a foreign land, it requires sacrifice and determination.

In 2016, Sana was forced to flee Aleppo, Syria and come to Turkey. She chose the city of Kayseri in hopes of finding employment and educational opportunities for her family. It is in Kayseri that Sana learned about crochet courses being offered by OAK Creative Designs. She not only learned how to crochet, but also became part of a community that values and supports her.

Being part of the OAK Creative Designs team has not only improved her family's quality of life, but has also given her a way to express her creativity. 

Sana is a mother of 6 children – 3 of whom are currently studying in university. She is an inspiration not only for her children, but for our entire team.
 
Noor

Refugee families face many barriers when it comes to gaining employment in their new homes. Along with managing their households, many dedicated mothers often become the sole breadwinners of their families.

Before coming to Turkey, Noor lived in the suburbs of Damascus in Northern Ghouta. It is here that her family lived a normal and comfortable life. Her husband was a manager at a company and Noor was a stay-at-home mother. When the war started, her husband received serious leg injuries after a bomb explosion at his work. This resulted in him having to stay in the hospital for one month and received therapy for 3 months. Soon afterwards, in the 2015, Noor’s family sold everything and came to Turkey. Unfortunately, weeks after arriving in Turkey, they were robbed and lost all the life savings that they had come with. Her husband has not been able to find work due to the scarce job market and health problems. As a result, Noor has become the sole breadwinner of her family.

Four years ago, she joined the OAK Creative Designs team and currently works as a team leader where she manages and teaches a group of 12 women. In Syria, Noor had learnt very basic crocheting. Through self-teaching and with the help of courses offered by OAK Creative Designs, Noor not only learned how to make advanced crochet dolls and toys but has excelled in her craft. She has perfected the designs of many of our products and works with other team leaders to develop new products such as our new Ertugrul doll and horse set. She is described by her co-workers as a creative and hard-working person who shows excellence in everything that she does.
 
Hafsa
For many refugee families, acquiring a safe and supportive community is a huge challenge.  The OAK Creative Designs family strives to be this sort of community for these families.
Hafsa was living in Aleppo, Syria where she was a primary school teacher and her husband was a truck driver.  It was in 2013 that Hafsa and her family has to flee Syria and come to Turkey due to war.  The initial neighborhood that they moved into was was not very safe or welcoming to them.  One day, Hafsa’s husband was attacked by local men.  In this attack, his hand was severed and even until this day, he has not regained proper function in his hand from that attack.  They reported this incident to the police and were threatened by their attackers. Out of fear of retaliation, Hafsa’s family had to leave their neighbourhood and move somewhere else.  Fortunately, the neighbourhood that they chose is the Osmanli neighbourhood – the neighbourhood where the OAK Centre is located and where OAK Creative Designs began its operations.
Since 2017, Hafsa has been part of the OAK Creative Designs family.  She makes beautiful crochet products that support her family.  Hafsa also recently had a baby.  Being able to work from home allows Hafsa to work from home and care for her 6 children.
 
More stories coming soon ...