‘Rags to riches’: Dubai-based British woman converts old sheets into new clothes for needy children

Barbara Evans, 69, started the project three years ago. (AN photo)
Updated 24 November 2017
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‘Rags to riches’: Dubai-based British woman converts old sheets into new clothes for needy children

DUBAI: A Dubai-based British woman has found a passion in supplying clothes and other stitched items to thousands of destitute people worldwide.
Under the banner “Rags to Riches,” Barbara Evans, 69, converts old sheets and pillow cases into new clothes for children, then donates them to the needy.
“It started three years back, when I read a story about a 99-year-old American woman who sewed dresses to donate to the poor,” said Evans, who now has more than 4,000 followers on Facebook.
“I thought if at the age 99 this lady can use her skills and do the most purposeful things, why not me? On Facebook I asked for old, discarded blankets or fabrics, and the rest is history.” Evans, who said all her charity work is by word of mouth, is supported by 25 ladies who help her stitch.
“We work like a group of friends. I have one Facebook page that I keep updating with amazing photos and news about assistance I’m receiving from family, friends and even strangers,” she said.
“Dubai is such a beautiful place, with so many kind-hearted angels around you. I get donations in the form of fabric, and people approach me who need clothes for donating in their home countries or other places.”
In the last three years, Evans has dispatched more than 5,000 garments to children in more than 23 countries. She stitches eight to 10 dresses per day.
“I don’t feel tired. The thought that these dresses will make so many children happy takes away all my fatigue. If I can be of help to someone it makes me happy, and I’m paid by smiles,” she said. Besides fabrics and accessories, she funds the rest herself.
Evans recently started making sanitary kits for young girls in India. “Sanitary kits for young girls are very much in demand,” she said.
“We’ve already distributed hundreds of them to different countries. Now we’re sending them to India.”
Evans has started giving basic sewing training to refugee mothers. “Recently I went to Gaziantep in Turkey, near the border with Syria, where myself and six other experienced ladies taught 30 Syrian (refugee) mothers to make clothes, bags and baby quilts.”
Her friend Dana, a Syrian resident in Dubai who organized the journey, said Evans and other Dubai-based women organized a three-day sewing workshop where they taught 30 Syrian mothers how to stitch so they can sustain themselves and support their children.
“We also gifted sewing machines to these mothers, who lost their earning family members during the war,” said Dana.
“We want to empower these mothers to support themselves and their children. Teaching them skills is the most sustainable support.”
Evans said: “We also did a refugee children’s fashion show where women showcased their products. It was a lovely experience. I want to go there again.”
 


Hundreds of Syrian ‘White Helmets’ evacuated by Israel to Jordan

Updated 5 min 25 sec ago
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Hundreds of Syrian ‘White Helmets’ evacuated by Israel to Jordan

  • Israeli military said it had completed “a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families ... due to an immediate threat to their lives”
  • The evacuation came at the request of the US and several European countries

JERUSALEM: About 800 members of Syria’s White Helmets civil defense group and their families were evacuated via Israel to Jordan on Sunday from southwest Syria, where a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive is under way, media said.
In a statement, the Israeli military said it had completed “a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families ... due to an immediate threat to their lives.”
It said they were transferred to a neighboring country, which it did not identify, and that the evacuation came at the request of the United States and several European countries.
Israeli media identified the Syrians as belonging to the White Helmets organization. Officially called the Syrian Civil Defense but known by their distinctive white helmets, the group has operated a rescue service in rebel-held parts of Syria.
Jordan’s official Petra news agency said on its website the kingdom “authorized the United Nations to organize the passage of about 800 Syrian citizens through Jordan for resettlement in Western countries.”
The agency identified the Syrians as civil defense workers who fled areas controlled by the Syrian opposition after attacks there by the Syrian army.
Petra said they would remain in a closed area in Jordan and that Britain, Germany and Canada had agreed to resettle them within three months.
The Syrian military, backed by a Russian air campaign, has been pushing into the edges of Quneitra province following an offensive last month that routed rebels in adjoining Daraa province who were once backed by Washington, Jordan and Gulf states.
The offensive has restored Syrian government control over a swathe of the southwest, strategic territory at the borders with Jordan and Israel.