A West Berkshire woman has been out to Iraq to teach Kurdish women living in a refugee camp how to sew.
Paula Horsfall, who works as a business support assistant for West Berkshire Council, helped to teach people basic sewing skills at the Baharka camp, about nine miles north of Erbil.
Her trip was at the request of the Bring Hope Humanitarian Foundation, after they heard about the arts and craft studio Remade DXB that Paula had set up with another expat while living in Dubai.
Paula said: “The Kurdish people are wonderfully warm and friendly, and I’m very pleased to be able to help in a small but practical way by teaching them to sew to make a living.
“The citadel outside Erbil is the oldest continually inhabited place on our planet – there is real heritage and history here, but almost unimaginable suffering.
“The Kurds are very proud people who are keen to help themselves, they simply need a little support to learn skills that can make them self sufficient for life.”
Paula is now working to find UK outlets to sell the handmade bags that the Kurdish women are creating.
She lived in Dubai for five years and set up Remade DXB prior to joining the council, and it was this experience that led to her being contacted by the foundation.
Paula continued: “My business partner and I were both ‘trailing spouses’ who accompanied our husbands when their jobs relocated them to Dubai.
“We became friends through a mutual love of making and decided to set up a business to share our skills with other expats.
“It was also to give back to the local community by teaching disadvantaged women a skill which could supplement their family income.
“It was an exciting time and I’m delighted that it led the Bring Hope Foundation to me.”
Paula is also planning to host a bag sale in the run-up to Christmas and will donate funds raised from the sale of her own designed and handmade bags.