One year ago, Threadies successfully closed our first Kickstarter campaign, setting in motion a journey full of unexpected encounters, unforeseen struggles, and unbelievable blessings. In the last twelve months we’ve manufactured Thready bears for thousands of children, helped provide jobs for vulnerable women, and entered into the stories of some incredible people around the world. In the midst of the many trials we see as a part of our work, we’ve found hope in the stories of refugees building new lives in the face of long odds, and in helpers (like you!) opening up their lives and hearts to help those in great need.
We’ve seen our fair share of challenges this year! Running a business in our spare time has been harder than we thought! Designing new packaging, managing ad campaigns, improving our supply chain, negotiating all types of agreements - these take a lot of work! Harder still have been the many complexities we’ve encountered while manufacturing and delivering teddy bears in a war zone. Working in the midst of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and Syrian Civil War has been difficult enough. Then the coup attempt in Turkey made things even harder!
Over and against these challenges, however, is a much longer list of blessings. Chief among them are the many new and growing relationships that have enabled us to multiply our impact. Through our new friends at the Refugee Welcome Network we were able to deliver Threadies to refugees in Serbia and Macedonia, who are traveling to safety along the refugee highway; a new partnership with the Karam Foundation opened the door for us to reach thousands of children fleeing Aleppo with essential trauma coping kits; some amazing women in Jordan helped us deliver hundreds of Threadies to urban refugees in Amman; and our relationship with Child’s Cup Full continues to grow, blessing both us and our artisan manufacturers in the West Bank, providing many families with a sustainable income.
Our hearts are bigger and our lives are fuller because of what we've accomplished with Threadies over the last year, and there is much, much more to come.
So glad to have you on board with us!
Steve and Andrew
September 10th & 11th, 2015
Your Thready bear's twin is in Azraq Refugee Camp, along the Syria/Jordan Border. Azraq is home to over 30,000 refugees of the Syrian Civil War, and is a harsh place to live. Children in Azraq are using Threadies as part of group therapy sessions with International Medical Corps. They then take their Threadies home to their cabins, giving them something to hold on to during cold desert nights.
September 12th - 20th, 2015
Your Thready bear's twin is in an urban refugee camp in Amman, Jordan. Children in Amman are refugees from all over the region, but mostly from Palestine, Iraq, and Syria. These bears were donated through Elun, a wonderful nonprofit that works with children around the world. For many of these children, Thready is their one and only toy.
September 21st - 24th, 2015
Your Thready bear's twin is in Jersey City with a child that was recently resettled in the US from Syria by the Church World Service. Your Thready may be it’s child’s first friend in America, helping him or her adjust to a new and unfamiliar place during the biggest change of their life.
September 25th - October 1st, 2015
Your Thready bear's twin was given to a refugee child on the Serbian or Macedonian border along the refugee highway. These children are fleeing Syria with their families, or sometimes alone, toward what they hope is a brighter, safer future. Threadies are providing warm hugs and stability to these children, who face uncertainty, harsh weather, and persecution during this traumatic journey.
October 1st, 2015 - Present
Your Thready bear's twin is in Turkey, on its way to a child in the village of Reyhanli, along the Syria/Turkey border. Reyhanli is just miles from Aleppo and is home to several thousand refugee children who have been exposed to some of the worst traumas of the war in Syria. These bears were delayed in their journey by Palestinian customs and further delayed by the coup attempt in Turkey, but they will reach their destination very soon! When they arrive, they will be distributed to needy children through the local school system by our friends at the Karam Foundation.
As we entered the hut and began unloading the Threadies from their boxes, a women entered behind us, signaling to us energetically. “Her name is Rahaf” our guide told us. “She is one of our best volunteers. She is very excited about your visit!” As we nodded to her and smiled, she picked up a towel from the windowsill, which she quickly began to wrap and fold into the shape of a doll, swaddling it in her arms before passing it around. It was all a bit odd, so we asked our translator what she was trying to do. “She wants to tell you a story” she said. “Listen, and she will explain!"
“My name is Rahaf and I have lived in this camp with my children for over two years. They are still very young but like many children in this camp, they left their true childhood behind in Syria. Living in the desert is very hard, especially for the children.
We are originally from Homs, where we lived in a beautiful home with many rooms. You could hear the sounds of bird song and rustling leaves through the windows. We were very happy. At the front of our house, on the second story, was a room full of my daughter’s toys - dolls, stuffed bears, and other play things - where she would play for hours on end. In the early days of the war, when we would hear the tat-tat-tat of machine gun fire in the distance, this room was her refuge from the rest of the world. Surrounded by her dolls, she could flee to an imaginary world and feel safe. As the war progressed, and the sounds and shakes of barrel bombs came closer, she would run into this room and shut the door, clutching her favorite doll tightly and rocking back and forth until it ended. As her mother I felt helpless. No one wants their dear child to see and feel these things!
Then, one day, my husband came home early from work and told us it was time to go. It was no longer safe. We bundled up our most important possessions and fled by foot south, toward safety. It wasn’t until the next day, with my daughter shaking beside me, that I recognized that she was without her comfort doll. She was unable to pack it in all the commotion! Thinking back to my own childhood, I took a rag I had been using for dishes, folded it into the shape of a swaddling baby, and gave it to her. It has been her constant companion for these last two years. She speaks to it during the day and holds it close during the night."
Moving toward the box of Thready bears, she reached in and pulled out a pink and purple bear with polka dots.
“It would mean so much if I could bring just one of these bears back to my daughter, so she could have a real doll again.”
It was at this moment, standing together with Rahaf in the desert, that we knew that our work creating Threadies, and our journey to the other side of the world, had been absolutely worthwhile. And twelve months later, it's stories like this young mother's that continue to fill us with energy and keep us moving forward.
Keep an eye on out for our quarterly “Threadies On The Ground” emails for more stories like Rahaf’s. We can’t wait to share!