Fashion designer Heba Fares, known for her brand Naomi Hanem, collaborated with NGO Masr El Kheer to start an initiative that brings together fashion, charity and most importantly, a story to tell!
Heba ‘s new collection named ‘E7ky Ya Shahrazad’ is all about helping out Gharimat. Gharimat are women who are imprisoned because of debt. These debts are usually the result of a loan taken out by these women for essentials and to support their families, perhaps help their daughters get married and so on.
“An initiative that brings together fashion, charity and most importantly, a story to tell!”
Heba’s designs are actually made by Gharimat, “these women are the ones who work on the collection and execute my designs”, she tells. The collection in named after the stories of these prisoners and what led them to the situation they are in now. More importantly, it aims to help them.
Nawal Moustafa an award winning journalist and head of ‘The Children of Women Prisoners Care Association’ explains the situation better; “These women are behind bars because of ignorance because they sign a promissory note with double and triple the amount they agreed on without noticing and sometimes their husbands put them in trouble when he lets them sign for his checks and then runs away.”
Women who are already talented can finally utilize their talents to make a living for themselves, “these women just want any job. It took me a while to find a few women to work with; one of them actually turned out to be very talented at sewing and making clothes”, Heba explains.
“The proceeds of this collection partially go into paying off the women’s debts and the other part goes to the Children’s Cancer Hospital 57357.”
Even if the women in question don’t know much about being a seamstress, Heba provides training and supervision. This all is extremely important as all the work is done from inside the prison, and therefore execution must be done remotely, “I have trainers that supervise them and teach them everything they need to know. And, of course, make sure we meet deadlines”, Heba tells.
Nawal emphasizes the importance of helping these women; “It’s very important to do workshops for prisoners to build up their skills to master several crafts so they can be able to start up fresh when they come out.”
“The collection in named after the stories of these prisoners and what led them to the situation they are in now. More importantly, it aims to help them.”
The collection itself and the designs included in it are all inspired by the cause itself, “I was seeking a cause first, I wanted to work with Masr El Kheir to raise awareness and money for 57357 and the collection came later”, Heba explains, “the ‘E7ky Ya Shahrazad’ collection is very Egyptian, but with a modern twist. This was done on purpose”.
The proceeds of this collection partially go into paying off the women’s debts and the other part goes to the Children’s Cancer Hospital 57357, “we hope and plan on working a Ramadan collection with the same women”, Heba concludes.
The collection is available online on Instagram @naomihanem and is also available at Boho Gallery, Style Treasure and The Doll House.