“More than a dove” seemed the only way to squeeze the numerous strands of this project into a single ‘strap-line’. I designed the doves to nestle in their recipient’s hand, but I hadn’t planned on the broad shoulders they would need to carry so many messages; peace, upcycling, partnership, the role of business in creating peace, empowering women, the power of a gift, refugees and love.
We met the NRS International team two years ago at the United Nations World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey. We felt an immediate affinity with them, and a fantastic energy from their team to explore how they could use their resources to help others. They instantly offered a tent and other items for the then yet to be made refugee simulation. A second meetingat Aidex in Brussels, Belgium cemented the relationship with a plan to create a product together upcycling fabric offcuts from their factories in Lahore, Pakistan.
Our ‘Peace Dove’ is made from the offcuts left when the factory machinists sew together blankets, and tents. It was a creative challenge to find a way to turn the 15cm x 100cm strips of blanket fleece into a dove, but I loved the shared drive to upcycle factory waste and turn it into something that could bring joy. We all wanted to embed a story and a message in them; for them to carry a reminder of those in need of the blankets and tents, in refugee camps, and in disaster situations, left without homes or shelter.
Bringing together the teams and the factory women who would make the doves, is where love comes into this story.
I’ve always felt pride and energised by the joy that is generated by groups of women ‘making’ together.
It was no different in a factory in the baking heat of Lahore, Pakistan. The factory women embraced talking about creating peace, and sharing their embroidery skills, as we all chatted and laughed. They valued the recognition of their voices in working towards bringing peace to the world, and seized the opportunity to learn new sewing skills.
Each of the 650 Peace Doves made will be a gift to someone. 150 larger doves will be given to Rohingya refugee children in camps in Bangladesh. We send this gift with love, messages of hope for peace in their lives, and the wish that, as soft toys, the doves bring comfort and potential for imagination and play. 500 smaller doves will wing their way to NRS International customers and partners, children in UK schools (who will also share their messages of peace), and as Empathy Action ‘Gifts that Give Twice’ for those who wish to share these messages of peace and hope with those close to them.
I have spent many hours designing and sewing these little doves to get them ready for production. The repetition of stitching can be a kind of meditation, giving head space to reflect all the while on the purpose of this project, the makers, the project team, and the final recipients of the Peace Doves. It’s always been my hope that each dove, once nestled in it’s receiver’s hand, will give them a moment to pause – to think about their vital wishes for peace, to feel connected to the people that created this dove, and others around them to generate their own messages and actions.
It’s got me thinking… perhaps “Little Dove, Big Message” would have been a better strapline.
The Peace Doves will be launching on World Peace Day 21st September, 2018 as part of partnership with NRS International. If you are interested in buying these or using them for your ‘peace party’ please get in touch.