Stitching Stories


A Jordanian woman is drawing on her passion for dressmaking to teach refugee women skills to make them more employable.

Until recently, Iraqi woman Nidaa Mustafa knew how to sew a button onto a shirt, but that was the extent of her dressmaking skills.

Now she has been trained in pattern making, sketching, fabricating and sewing thanks to dressmaker Gina Barjeel.

Ms Mustafa is able to utilise her skills to make decorations or practical alterations around the house, but crucially has acquired skills that make her employable.

Unemployment is one of the biggest issues facing new arrivals in Australia, and in Wollongong where Ms Mustafa lives, there is a significant multicultural population of refugees.

“I’ve been seeking employment here and there and asking but I couldn’t find anything,” she said.

“I’m looking for interpreter work because I used to be an interpreter in Iraq and I couldn’t find anything here, so I’m doing volunteering and I work at SES also.”