Minara

Some of the Testimony Tailors have been publishing their profiles to the website. This is the story of Minara.

Minara is 17 years old and is from a village called Tula Toli (or Min Gyi, in Burmese). On 30 August 2017, the 99th Light Infantry Division of the Myanmar army carried out a massacre in that village. Minara was hit by three bullets and was lucky to have survived. She lost four members of her own family on that day.

What is your earliest memory of work?

Before i was in my teens, I used to go to madrassah. When I came home, I would tend to our livestock. We had 6 cows and 3 goats. When I reached puberty, I stayed at home and did housework.

What would you like to do in the future?

I would like to go back to Myanmar. When i think about it, I want to go back immediately. But then I remember it is not possible. My mother died there. My sister died there. My sister-in-law died there. And my brother’s little daughter too. All of them were killed and I saw it all with my own eyes. I am not sure how I did not die. When we were all desperately crossing the river to Wut Kyein, I was hit three times whilst still in the water. On the other side we took shelter in a graveyard. I thought I would die there.

I would like to get married someday. But that is not possible. No man will accept me because of the scars I have. And in any case they demand too much and my family can’t afford it.

Do you like your sewing machine?

I look after my sewing machine like it was my baby. It means a lot to me to be able to get some income and buy the necessary things. Life is hard here. This machine helps a little bit.

Read more Testimony Tailors’ profiles here.

Support Testimony Tailors by buying a gift for another refugee from their online shop here. You will be emailed a photo of your gift delivered.

Have a look at the Eid Dresses you bought

Thank you for your support for Testimony Tailors.

Here are just some of the clothes you had made by Testimony Tailors during Eid Al Fitr in June 2019, that were give to Rohingya refugees as gifts.

In total you bought 250 items of clothing, plus 5 hanging mobile decorations and 25 sewing machines for Rohingya refugees. Your support for Testimony Tailors is really having an impact, bringing some smiles, encouraging creativity and empowering Rohingya women.

Now Testimony Tailors sewing cooperative has grown to include over 70 women tailors. That’s 70 families that are benefiting from increased income. This is wonderful, thank you! However it also means they need to sell more clothes to make this a sustainable business for so many.

Please tell your friends about their initiative and visit https://testimonytailors.com/ to place your order. Thank you!!


About Testimony Tailors

How we began

In January 2017, a group of Rohingya women, some of them as young as 14, who had fled Myanmar to take refuge in Bangladesh, showed great courage in telling their horrific testimonies to documentary maker Shafiur Rahman. They described brutal incidents of rape and the murder of family members, including babies and young children who were butchered in front of them.

The women said that they saw no reason to hide their faces if it meant telling the world what had happened to them. This is their story:

When people started to learn about their suffering, they wanted to help. A sewing machine was purchased and delivered to one of the women and then another, and then several more. In time 27 women had sewing machines and they taught each other how to use them and started to make some clothes.

Their sewing provided income which gained them some amount of control over their lives. One young woman who was under pressure to marry someone not of her choosing was able to say no because she had become the breadwinner of the family.

Now something truly inspirational for anyone to witness is how these women are finding hope through creating clothes together. That these women could ever smile again after what they have lived through is difficult to believe but see for yourself.

In October 2018, these women formed a sewing co-operative, “Testimony Tailors”. They are a testimony to the world about the genocide of the Rohingya, and a testimony of resilience in the face of the greatest tragedies that any woman or mother could endure.

They are buying materials together to bring down costs through bulk buying and are purchasing equipment, such as irons, that they can share. They have organised themselves into four groups, each with their leaders, to help with coordination. The groups are called:

  • Gulap (rose)

  • Joba (China rose)

  • Shapla (water lily)

  • Sundari (beautiful)

This online shop has been built and is being run free of charge as part of the #HANDS4ROHINGYA project, to expand their venture further. It is the first of its kind, where people around the world can buy a product that is made by a refugee to be given to a refugee and all the profits will benefit those refugees. The additional sales will bolster this community of Rohingya women as they move towards self-sufficiency and will further stimulate the economy in their camp. This project is also bringing a lot of hope, creativity and excitement.

Please do have a look around the site and consider buying some of these clothes that have been made entirely by the women. If you would like to give further support to these survivors, you might consider buying a sewing machine package so that another woman can participate. With your purchases the cooperative has now grown in size to over 60 members, but there are plenty more women who have experienced great adversity and are very eager to join the cooperative.

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