COLLECTION 01: NAHLA X UNITED NATIONS REFUGEE AGENCY (UNHCR)

INTRODUCING COLLECTION 01

My name is Tahra (@tahrajade) and I am the Digital Content Creator at Nahla Swim. I’m so excited to talk to you about the vision and inspiration behind this purpose-driven brand, elaborate on our first collection, and to share a bit of my story.

 

Nahla was created with the goal of bringing together fashion and philanthropy. We want to create beautiful, intentional pieces that make a tangible impact on those that need it the most. That is why each collection will partner with a philanthropic organization, where a portion of profits will go directly to that partner cause. For our first collection, we decided to partner with the United Nations Refugee Agency Canada (UNHCR); the need is greater than ever and the cause is one we have a personal connection with. The UNHCR is dedicated to Saving Lives and Protecting Rights, focusing on those who have fled violence, persecution, war, and/or disaster at home. We are so proud to be partnering with such an incredible organization that aligns directly with our values of integrity, compassion, and humanity.  

 

 

On a deeper level, this partnership means a great deal to myself, as a first generation Canadian. My parents are from Palestine and have experienced much of the devastation and detrimental impacts of the ongoing conflict there. My mother and father were both born and raised in war, and have seen and endured things no child should have to endure at such a young age. Both of them fled to Canada at different periods in their lives with the hopes of creating a more promising future. The experiences they have had, my extended family that still reside in Palestine have had, as well as what I have experienced myself in Palestine, is what makes me an even stronger advocate for the work of the UNHCR. While there have been around 5 million Palestinian refugees that have fled the mistreatment and conflict at home, there are millions of others throughout an overwhelming number of countries who are experiencing very similar occurrences that leave them with no other option than to begin a new life elsewhere. While I am passionate about remaining educated on my own country, I also believe it’s unbelievably important to rid ourselves of selective empathy and become aware of what is occurring in many other corners of the world so we can do our absolute best to be advocates and allies, regardless of geographic ties.

 

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palestine on film 🕊

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 The main goals of this partnership are to raise awareness of the challenges many refugees face on a daily basis and to do our part with paying it forward. Going forward, we see ourselves continuing to partner with as many organizations that aid those in need as possible in order to raise funds for further vulnerable causes. We will continue to speak out about the global injustices that many groups face on all our online platforms to raise awareness and hopefully encourage others to donate and speak out as well. We also intend to take the Nahla team and partner content creators abroad to volunteer and gain first-hand context for the work these organizations do. 

 

THE UNHCR AND ITS IMPACT
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), is a global organization dedicated to “saving lives, protecting rights, ultimately building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people.”

 

 

Since the UNHCR was founded in 1950, they have tackled various crises in multiple continents, and have provided critical assistance to refugees, asylum-seekers, returnees, internally displaced, and stateless people globally. The protection, shelter, health, education, and advocacy they implement has been a vital step in aiding people in order to strengthen local capacities and build brighter futures for individuals in need. 

 

 

The reason the UNHCR’s work is so crucial is because they safeguard rights and provide aid to those who seek it in 135 countries worldwide, so their scope is vast and global in reach. They strive to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find refuge in another State, with the option to eventually return home, integrate, or resettle. Not only does the UNHCR provide emergency response and assistance in the form of clean water, sanitation, health care, shelter, and food, but they also aim to establish secure, lasting solutions within and outside of the communities they serve. 
www.unhcr.ca

 

We chose the UNHCR because they are a well-renowned global organization with over half a century of experience within the humanitarian field. Additionally, there is no doubt that the donations they receive go directly to the causes and most vulnerable populations that they help. Their credibility and dedication to serving is unwavering.

 

COLLECTION BREAKDOWN:

Nahla’s Understated Collection speaks to the art of subtle yet intricate expression. A ‘less is more’ ideology is brought to life with neutral hues, minimalistic cuts, refined hardware, and an unmatched eye for the details.  

 

 

Collection 01: Understated is a fifty-seven-piece collection featuring six swim designs and two bandana scarves. Each swim design comes in five beautiful shades, creating an endless variation of combinations. The palette is neutral and the shades include deep brown, taupe, nude, rose, and off-white. Each design can be previewed below:

 

DESIGN I
DESIGN II
DESIGN III
DESIGN IV
DESIGN V
DESIGN VI
DESIGN VII
DESIGN VIII

 

 

As stated prior, 100% of all profits from our accessories, Design VII and Design VIII, will go directly to programs within the UNHCR that support forcibly displaced refugees around the world. Our aim with these designs is to convey the UNHCR’s mission and values in an authentic and clear manner. Both scarves are printed mesh, 100% biodegradable, cruelty free, and vegan. We found incredible social influencers with aligned values that are helping to amplify the cause and support our mission within their own social audiences. A few of these models include Cassie Amato, Lexi Wood, Snejana JensTara Martin, two of which can be seen wearing our UNHCR inspired scarf designs below. Prioritizing meaningful content creator relationships and carefully selecting influencers who embody and share our values will be a continued priority for all future collections.

 

The design behind Scarf VII embodies hope, freedom, and growth. The abstract floral pattern which can be seen below was created by refugee artist Anas Albraehe, who is a Syrian refugee currently living in Beirut, Lebanon. 

 

 

Scarf VIII embodies the essence of the partnership between Nahla and The UNHCR. Both logos and slogans “Saving Lives, Protecting Rights” and “Supporting the Most Vulnerable” are visible in repeating patterns throughout the design.

 

REFUGEE DIARIES:
We wanted to take this time to feature some of the most powerful stories and photos of refugees around the world. We hope you take a moment to read their moving stories and gain a deeper understanding for their journies.

 

 

 

 

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Lamar fled Iraq with her family. Read about her story below. ⁣ ⁣ Regram @natgeo: Photo by @magnuswennman It was exactly five years ago today that I took this picture of Lamar, five years old, on the border between Serbia and Hungary. Hungary had just closed its border with a five-meter-high iron gate. Thousands of refugees trying to reach northern Europe were stopped. I remember this moment so clearly. Lamar slept in a forest area between the highway and a large grass field. The blanket over her was similar to one I have at home. Her family was sitting under a tree a few meters away, and her grandmother smiled as I approached. She told me that it was a bomb that changed everything. The family was on their way to buy food when it was dropped close to their house in Baghdad. “It was not possible to live there anymore,” she said. After two attempts to cross the sea from Turkey in a small rubber boat, they succeeded—making it as far as Hungary, then finding a closed border.⁣ ⁣ This picture is part of my story “Where the children sleep,” which has been published and exhibited around the world in recent years. To see the full project, go to the link in my personal bio. All income from this project is donated to UNHCR.⁣ ⁣ Check out Nat Geo's link in bio for more on this story.⁣ ⁣ Photo: @magnuswennman⁣ ⁣ #UNHCR #refugees #WithRefugees #natgeo

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Obah and her son are receiving emergency food assistance in Libya.⁣ ⁣ Mother and son are Somali refugees who now live in Tripoli, Libya. The severe socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have affected refugees and asylum-seekers in Libya.⁣ ⁣ UNHCR and @worldfoodprogramme are joining forces in Libya to reach up to 10,000 food insecure refugees and asylum-seekers. Among those assisted are people recently released from detention centres, with limited means of supporting themselves. Others include refugees in urban settings facing severe challenges in accessing food. ⁣ ⁣ Many have been unable to find work during the coronavirus curfews, while food prices have risen dramatically. Many refugees are only able to afford one meal a day. ⁣ ⁣ Photo: UNHCR/Caroline Gluck⁣ ⁣ #Libya #Tripoli #refugees #WithRefugees #food #WFP

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"Go! Get your children to safety!"⁣ ⁣ When armed men attacked her village in Naweneangwa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Marie simply gathered up her children and ran into the bush with dozens of her neighbours. She couldn't even wait for her husband. ⁣ ⁣ In a desperate trek to reach safety in neighbouring South Sudan, heavily pregnant Marie was horrified to realise that only four of her children were accounted for. Where was 11-year-old Mborikino?⁣ ⁣ She searched frantically for her son but he was nowhere in sight. Frantic to get her other children – including her unborn child – to safety, she took the agonizing decision to press on. They arrived in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria State, five days later with nearly 200 other refugees.⁣ ⁣ After the quarantine period, Marie and other refugees prepared to be moved from the quarantine facility to Makpandu refugee camp, which hosts nearly 5,000 refugees. On the day of the relocation, Marie spotted a familiar face in the crowd – her son, Mborikino. ⁣ ⁣ This harrowing tale is not a unique one - pictured here is another Congolese refugee mother Joyce and her children waiting to board a UNHCR truck to Makpandu camp, South Sudan. ⁣ ⁣ We continue to work with partners to curb the spread of #COVID19 while helping refugees. To read more, click the link in our bio. ⁣ ⁣ Photo: © UNHCR/Rocco Nuri⁣ ⁣ #SouthSudan #DRC #Congo #refugees #WithRefugees #COVID19

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Safe in each other's arms.⁣ ⁣ 11-year-old Syrian refugee Namaat holds her baby brother Ibrahim at home in Amman, Jordan.⁣ ⁣ “I have to support my parents and my brothers. They don’t have anyone else but me," she says.⁣ ⁣ Namaat's family fled Homs in 2013. Their dire financial situation means Naamat needs tto take on household duties. Every morning she changes her baby brother’s nappies, makes breakfast and gets her other two brothers ready, before cleaning the house and leaving for school, where she excels.⁣ ⁣ Her mother works most mornings cleaning houses and her father is bed-bound by the physical and psychological effects of three years’ of imprisonment and torture in Syria. ⁣ ⁣ Namaat is top of her class, rejects the idea of early marriage and aspires to be a pilot when she grows up. ⁣ ⁣ Photo: © UNHCR/ @diego.ibarra.sanchez ⁣ #Syria #refugees #WithRefugees #UNHCR #Jordan #school

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HOW YOU CAN HELP:
We can all make a positive impact by feeling empowered to learn more and contribute where we can. Below are a few tangible ways to ally with the cause:

 

1. STAY INFORMED: Follow the UNHCR on Instagram and stay up to date with their latest work and emergency states.

 

2. SPEAK UP: Talk about it on your own social media platforms! Share posts and stories, as well as valid petition and donation links. Make caring and rallying behind humanitarian causes a part of your social media activity.

 

3. CHALLENGE YOUR CITY:  Take a step in the right direction and join the UN Refugee Agency's challenge to make an impact in your own community.

 

4. DONATE: Make a monetary donation when you can; your money always goes to those who need it most. To donate directly, click  here.

 

5. VOLUNTEER: The UNHCR has many volunteer opportunities abroad, in your own country, or online. Click here to learn more.

 

6. TAKE ONLINE COURSES: If you are interested in learning more about the humanitarian field, you can take free online courses that are led by well-renowned universities. Some of these include: 

 

We’d like to thank the entire UNHCR team for partnering with us and for believing in Nahla's big vision. We cannot wait to continue creating beautiful pieces while making a tangible difference in the lives of the most vulnerable.

 

Tahra Elsharkawi
Digital Content Creator,
Nahla Swim