PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — The organization Weavetales is empowering refugees and immigrants to use their voices and share their stories, and on Saturday, these efforts will be recognized at the PLAYERS Championship.
“We are really happy to see the community stepping in and supporting,” said Basma Alawee, the cofounder of Weavetales.
She is aiming to rewrite what you think you know about refugees and immigrants.
“Refugees coming from civilized and uncivilized countries. Refugees who are blue-eyed, blonde-haired and refugees who are brown-eyed,” Alawee explained of the different prejudices that exist when viewing refugees.
Alawee is a refugee herself who left Iraq in 2010.
“I was asked and threatened to leave my home,” she said.
She also knows what it feels like to be threatened in the U.S., and she recounted a racist encounter she experienced in Florida.
“I was stopping to get some groceries and a man from nowhere looked at me and he did the sign of the gun and he’s like, ‘Go back! You need to be deported. Go back home,’” she recalled. “And at the time, I was an American citizen.”
Alawee wanted to create a safe space for immigrants and refugees through Weavetales, and during the pandemic, she went online to find a global network.
“We were able to share the trust of refugees, to share the story of refugees,” she pointed out.
She was able to share stories like Dima Kroma’s, a software engineer who was visiting her parents in Syria when war broke out, and she had to flee.
“When I hugged my dad, I was thinking all these thoughts: ‘Am I going to see him?’ But I never expected that wouldn’t happen,” Kroma said. “I said goodbye and he said, ‘Until we meet again,’ but it was farewell. It was very hard.”
Through Weavetales, Kroma says she found her voice again.
“I became more confident about speaking in public,” she shared.
This has also empowered her to find other forms of expression like art. She’s now pursuing her Master’s in Fine Art and Visual Art from Jacksonville University.
“Every person has a way for them to tell their story, so that’s my way,” Kroma said. “I started to paint to tell stories. I painted cultures, traditions, people, proficiency, places and even the plants and the flowers that are most loved in the community.”
She believes people are more receptive to a message in art form because “that goes through the heart, to the mind to open this mind.”
This is exactly what Weavetales hopes to achieve through storytelling.
“Use our voices in the right way,” Alawee emphasized. “To change the narrative to the benefit of everyone, not just me.”
Grant Thorton, a sponsor of THE PLAYERS Championship, has also provided Weavetales with a grant to help fund its publishing efforts so these stories can reach more people.
You can find out more about Weavetales HERE.
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