Episode 1: Nawal Amer
In the past 6 years at Salim Azzam, it has been an unspeakable pleasure working with people who do what they love, and who are still connected to their roots. Working with the artisanal community in the region has opened new doors and moulded new friendships, friendships where learning is mutual. There are so many beautiful stories that I wanted to share, each with as many voices as there are threads. The hands of the women that bring these stories to life bring with them the voices of the mountain community, a tight-knit community of makers and dreamers.
Of all the beautiful stories, this is Nawal’s story.
70 years old Nawal Amer is a small shop owner, who for years provided the women in the region with threads and craft supplies for their artisanal work. Being an artisan herself, she has been in the business for the last 50 years in her small shop nestled in a small road in the heart of Baakline el Chouf, “Aswaf el Tayar”.
Nawal’s shop has no signage but it’s hard not to notice it. In her small read vitrine, knitted white scarfs and colorful hats, little packaged newborn sets, from the blanket to the hat to the tiny shoes done with love for little ones. Inside, an explosion of colors, from wool yarns filling up the walls to vintage clothing pieces to canvas sceneries hanging, that I couldn’t but pick one for myself.
If you are passing by the shop, you will often find her knitting, watching people run their errands. Kind, sweet, and experienced, Nawal is one of the very few who still run businesses like this in the Chouf region far away from the hustle and bustle of urbanism.
When I asked her if I could take a picture of her to share her story, she got excited and said: If I knew I would have dressed differently!
I wish to always channel the skills and creativity of these women, whose knowledge is their weapon, and to share their gift with the world.
From the threads supplied by Nawal, the owner of this small shop, to the hands of the local women that expertly work these threads into patterns and pictures, we will always celebrate local talent, tales, and tradition to tell stories that are common to our culture, heritage, and humanity.
Baakline, February 18, 2022.