Brazilian artisans join forces in Lebanon

18 de novembro de 2017

São Paulo – A group of Brazilian women who live in Lebanon have gotten together to make and sell handicraft. Established by the Lebanese-born Katia Aawar, who was raised in Brazil and currently lives in Beirut, the group is called Arteiras do Brasil. It will have its first exhibit ever on November 28 at Beirut’s Brazil-Lebanon Cultural Center.

They make accessories and household items including crochet towels and cloths, knit shawls, caps and scarves, biscuit décor items and dolls, paintings, handmade soap, and patchwork items such as purses, baby blankets with sewn-in items, decorative candles, painted porcelain, etc.

The women live on the mountains of Lebanon, in areas like the Beqaa Valley and cities including Tripoli and Saida. Katia came up with the idea of forming a group when she realized that Brazilian women who would relocate to Lebanon after marrying locals often felt lonely and sad. “The cultural gap is very wide,” she says.

Most of the Brazilian women in the group are Muslims stay-at-home wives who care for the family and the house. Katia is in the Council of Brazilian Citizens in Beirut. When she found out about these women, she learned that many are artisans, or “arteiras,” as she calls them in Portuguese. The group came together six months ago, and they stay in touch mostly online.

Katia explains that this is an attempt to involve these Brazilian women in the Lebanese world and to occupy their time. “It’s occupational therapy. It makes them feel better and more appreciated by the society that they live in,” she said. The group started out with eight artisans; now, it features 30.

The women work from home. Katia’s hoping that the exhibition will be the first of many appearances at fairs and other showcases. She hopes the group to eventually become a cooperative. Their slogan is Mãos que fazem história (Hands that make history).

Katia is the daughter to a Lebanese father and a Brazilian mother. She was born in Lebanon, but her family moved to Brazil when she was very young, in 1978. Katia studied Psychology and even began going to college to learn Pedagogy, but then, nine years ago, she returned to her homeland.

In order to adapt, she soon turned to social work and art. She set up a project combining art and recycling and started teaching workshops to the elderly, children with special needs and girls. Right now, she’s teaching creative sewing, and she created a brand under which she makes patchwork purses.

Katia experienced handicraft and social work herself about a year ago while going through a rough patch. This was one of the things that led her to create the handicraft project.

The exhibition at the Brazil-Lebanon Cultural Center will feature the work of 20 women. The items will be on show and on sale from 11am to 6 pm.

Quick facts:

Jingle and Mingle
Handicraft exhibition
November 28, 2017
11 am to 6 pm
Brazil-Lebanon Cultural Center
Mar Mitr Street – Trad building - Achrafieh - Beirut
Free admission
Phone: +961 1 322 905

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum