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A Whole Lot of Baggage...

Wednesday, 07 September 2016 13:33

Ali.1 Ali-refugee-Woking2 FRNConf2016-33

When Keith Rose, Project Manager of Woking Community Furniture Project arrived at the FRN Annual Conference 2016 and was handed the beautifully handcrafted delegates bag made out of end-of-roll material by The Sewing Rooms he had not appreciated how much this bag would help one of his volunteers. 

Ali Alkasih, along with his young family, had fled Syria after the factory he owned was bombed and he was arrested by the Secret Police. Through the support of Surrey Family Service, Ali was introduced to Keith and Woking Community Furniture Project and came to volunteer for the project. It weas then that Ali's talents were revealed and a happy match between Ali and Woking Sewing Machines was made. Before it had been destroyed, Ali's factory created upholstered items and bags of all shapes and sizes. Woking Community Furniture receive a lot of waste textiles and with Ali at the helm they have been able to put them to very good use, including replicating and creating the FRN conference delegate bags. 
As Keith said when he returned with FRN bag in hand - "I showed Ali and said 'can you make these?'. Within half-an-hour he had made a pattern and was banging them out – it’s keeping his skills going.” Ali now is an avid maker of the FRN styled bags and they sell like hotcakes. 
When we spoke to Keith about this story he ended with "Thanks for the inspiration - I'll be back at the conference next year to poach other ideas!"... And we at the FRN are glad to hear because that's what it is all about - sharing our knowledge and successes to ensure we are doing the very best we can through re-use. 

Mr Alkasih’s 70-year-old father remains in Damascus, one of his sisters and a brother are in Lebanon with failed attempts to come to the UK, while his mother and another sister are in Jordan.

Another brother, Mr Alkasih said, died in a Syrian prison, while his brother-in-law was shot in a building in Damascus.

“We don’t understand why,” he said. “I did not speak any politics. What happened in Syria, I do not know why police got me, I don’t know why they killed my family.”

Aided by a phone translator, he said Daesh, also known as Islamic State, had occupied Yarmouk Camp in Damascus.

“It’s a big place, the same as Woking,” he added.

Mr Alkasih said designated staff at Woking Borough Council had aided his family with school queries or health issues.

“We are starting again, your family is in pain and stress, your children see people being killed,” he said.

“Now I need to look after my girls, maybe one day in the future they will be politicians.

"I will never go back to Syria. It is dreams if you think the war will finish tomorrow.”



17 days ago
Ali is an amazing person. He is truly resilient and besides all the hardships he and his family have faced, they still have plenty of hope to re-build their lives and to give their children a great upbringing. They are very good people and I'm happy that the people of Surrey are being kind to them, we are a good society with a big heart.
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Read 1285 times Last modified on Wednesday, 07 September 2016 15:25

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