With the result of the successful collaboration between Kuchinate and the United Nations many women have relocated globally.
Here are some of their stories…
Nyamok Elizabeth Malek
Eritrea - Relocated to Sweden in 2017.
Biri lives with her husband and child (age 1 year, 9 months) near the Haganah train station in Southern Tel Aviv.
“I came to Israel in 2010. I passed through the Sinai, but I do not want to talk about it. I met my husband in 2014 in Tel Aviv, and in 2015, I gave birth to a very sick child. He does not eat; only drinks milk from a bottle. He does not respond; only cries and cries like he is in deep suffering. The doctors do not know what to do and neither do I. I can’t get a full-time job because of my child so that’s why I came to Kuchinate. I make baskets and my child sits next to me in the stroller. When cries, I try to calm him or give him a bottle. I'm always in Lchilov Hospital with him. I sleep next to him in the room. When he feels better, we go back home, but when things get bad again, we have to go back to the hospital. The UN is now sending me to Sweden. I will take my child to the hospital there to help him. I don’t think of myself at all at the moment; I’m only focused on helping my child recover. At Kuchinate, I love to make baskets; I make baskets of all sizes. Now that I'm moving to Sweden, I know I'll miss everyone here.
Eritrea- Relocated to Canada in 2021.
Asmeret arrived in Israel in 2011 from Eritrea. In 2017, she joined the Kuchinate collective, and learned how to sew. After three years of developing her artistic talents and leadership qualities, Asmeret became Kuchinate’s Sewing Department Director. During her time as Director, Asmeret designed many new products, and led a course that taught 24 women how to sew.
"Before I came to Kuchinate, I was afraid to talk and tell what happened to me, now I do not stop talking. Kuchinate gave me a voice."
Asmeret is a single mother of two beautiful girls, Eldana (8) and Mikhal (3). She has long dreamt of opening her own Kuchinate in a new country where she can build a future for herself and her daughters. In May 2021, with the help of our friends at UNHCR, Asmeret and her family were resettled in Edmonton, Canada. She hopes to one day realize her dream of opening her own shop in the abundant Eritrean community there.
“The most important thing that Kuchinate gave me was strength and confidence.
When I was in Eritrea I was very confident, I was very smart. Then when I came to Israel I
suddenly felt so small and fragile. I felt sad and miserable all the time. Sick, all my body hurt.
When I started Kuchinate I suddenly regained my strength. I’ve started to believe in myself
again. If you have strength, you won’t fall again.”
Eritrea - Relocated to the US.
Mulu arrived in Israel in 2011 with three children. Today, she is the proud mother of five children (ages 16, 10, 7, 3 and 1.5). Mulu has been working at Kuchinate since she arrived in Israel. Mulu’s son requires a lot of medical attention which forces her to frequently leave work to attend to his needs. For Mulu, Kuchinate is a place to work and take care of her children simultaneously. At Kuchinate, Mulu works carefully to develop her craft.
“I want to be an expert because I know that if we produce excellent products, we can sell [them] and I can then care for my children. With all the problems I have, I feel joy when I do this work and at Kuchinate, I can have the flexibility I need in my life."
South Sudan- Relocated to the US
Elizabeth came to Israel in 2007 with six children. Since then, three of her six children were deported back to South Sudan. The remaining three children are still in Israel. One of her sons was detained for 1.5 years in Saharonim prison in Israel, the detention facility for African asylum seekers located in the Negev desert. Elizabeth and her three children have been approved for resettlement to the USA. She is hoping to find a way to bring her other three children from South Sudan to the USA so that her family can be reunited.
“Kuchinate has been a big help. I have a little bit of work. To use my hands to create something and to develop an expertise, gives me a sense of pride. It’s a place where I can come and let go of my stresses with a community of women.”
Eritrea – Relocated to the US in 2017.
"My child was born premature, during week 26, with water in his head. He had an operation on his head and is currently still in the hospital. Sometimes, even my husband cannot work because he helps me take care of our child who needs to be checked on and given medication all the time. Our boy is neither walking nor crawling; just sitting. The doctors do not know if he will be able to walk. Since he had head surgery, and his hands do not move, he goes to a special kindergarten for children who have problems. I arrived at Kuchinate a year and five months ago. If I do not have to take my child to the doctor, I come to work at Kuchinate. In Israel, it is very difficult; I have no work and I have to pay for food and rent. My dream is that my child will feel good. If God gives health to my child, that is enough for me. I love Kuchinate because at home I worry all the time and think about what will happen to us, what will happen to our child, and how we are going to have enough food and money. Here at Kuchinate, I see other mothers with children; I look at them and see that they all have problems too. Everyone who comes to Kuchinate suffers, so here I am not alone."
Ethiopia – Relocated to the US in 2018.
Serkhalem lived in Israel for seven years, next to the Haganah train station, with her husband, her two children (ages 5 & 3), and her husband’s brother.
"I prefer not to talk about why I left Ethiopia or about what happened in the Sinai because it's too difficult. I met my husband in Sudan and we came to Israel together. My husband started working in a restaurant and we rented an apartment. I couldn’t work because they did not give me a visa and told me to go to court. In court, the judge told me to leave Israel and go back to Ethiopia within the next 60 days. But how can I leave? I have a husband and children here, and my husband is Eritrean, and there is a war between the two countries. I went to the Interior Ministry and they said, "Leave the children with your husband and go back to Ethiopia or Uganda…you must leave." I was very afraid so I went to the UN to ask for help. Luckily, they helped us and I was not deported. In 2015, I arrived at Kuchinate. My head was not right. I was very worried that something was wrong with me and that I wouldn’t be able to care for my children. I went to the ASAF to ask for help and they are the ones who told me that the women at Kuchinate would help me feel good. In Ethiopia, I graduated from high school and began to study secretary in a vocational school, but before I finished school, I had to escape to Sudan. My dream is to get a job and speak fluent English."
Eritrea- Relocated to Canada in 2017.
Tsegereda has been living in Israel for eight years. She is a mother of three, one teenager and two pre-school age children. Tsegereda lives in the Hatikva neighborhood with her husband. At Kuchinate, Tsegereda is responsible for checking and approving the quality of the baskets after the women finish knitting them. She measures the baskets to make sure they are the correct size and decides if they are ready for sale. "If a basket is not good enough, I do not accept it. The woman has to unravel it and start over," says Tsegereda. In addition, Tsegereda teaches knitting and makes Injera, an Ethiopian flatbread, for events.
"In 2013, I became ill and went to the hospital. The doctors told me there was a problem with my heart and it needed to be replaced. They gave me medicine and told me to wait for a donor. In the meantime, I worked as a cleaning lady, but soon became very sick again so I left my job and came to Kuchinate. In 2015, I gave birth to my child and one month later I had to have open-heart surgery. I waited to have the surgery for over two years. When the doctors told me I could finally have the surgery, I went to PHR because I do not have health insurance and it would be very expensive. I was lucky because doctors from Tel Hashomer Hospital said they could help me and operated on me without taking any money. After the operation, I brought the doctors baskets that I crocheted at Kuchinate as gifts.”
Tsegereda Rada, Quality Control Manager