Ler Gi portrait

LER GI, PWO KAREN HILLTRIBE, THAILAND, SOPMOEi ARTS

Ler Gi is 38; she has three children. She started weaving when she was 14. She and her husband belong to the Pwo Karen hilltribe in Thailand (Interesting fact – the Pwo Karen people are a matriarchal society, and are known for being peaceful although they have been persecuted in Myanmar and had to flee as refugees to Thailand). Ler Gi and her husband have two jobs. They are farmers. During the rainy season they grow rice, and during the winter months they grow corn and garlic.

"We are the lucky ones here," says Ler Gi.

"Everyone around us are farmers; if the seasons are good, the income is reasonable. But if prices are poor, times become difficult. But those of us who weave here have a second job to go to, after we have spent some time in the fields. When the day grows hot, all the farmers return home. At home most of the farmers have nothing more to do. But for our weaving group, we return home to a second job, and a second income."

Ler Gi's hopes, and her contentment, is laser focused on her three children. "My husband and I only received a 4 year education," she says. "We have no unrealistic ambitions for ourselves. Everything that we do is for our children; it is for them to dream, not for us. For us, we strive to cover only the necessities of life; to be without want." She is fiercely ambitious for their children; to do this they have moved from the mountains to the valley, to hold down two jobs, from where they are building the foundations for their children.

Portrait of Kevsar at Yalla Trappan

KEVSAR, YALLA TRAPPAN

Kevsar has been in Sweden since 1986. Her husband came to sweden as a political refugee. In Macedonia she had a great career, having had her own company for 11 years. Kevsar was very sad to leave everything behind, and move to a new country.

She had her 4th child here and has 6 children now. In the beginning Kevsar didn’t have a job, she couldn’t speak the language, it was difficult to adjust and she wanted to go home. However, after 11 years she was able to learn Swedish and she was feeling a little more integrated into society. And, then her husband died. She decided that she needed to find a job and that’s when she discovered Yalla Trappan.

“It means a lot to work here. It is important to work and look after my family. My dream is that everyone in my family will be healthy - we have one more wedding in the family, I am waiting for that…” says Kevsar.

Portrait of Rukaia at Yalla Trappan

Rukaia, Yalla Trappan

Rukaia comes from Homs, Syria. She had a boutique in Syria which sold dresses for weddings and provided hairstyling to customers until there was a bombing outside her shop which destroyed everything. She escaped the war in Syria and has been living in Sweden for 4 ½ years. Her children are in England and she misses them very much but is relieved to be in Europe and close enough to visit them.

She started to study when she first moved to Sweden, and then her counselor told her about a job opportunity at Yalla Trappan. Rukaia has an internship at Yalla Trappan and hopes to convert that to full time employment. She says that the move was difficult in the beginning, but she is happy and content about her future. She loves her job and wants to take care of herself. Her future dreams include her job and her children.

Portrait of Noi at Yalla Trappan

Noi, Yalla Trappan

Noi was born in Thailand. She moved to Sweden 6 years ago- after her husband died and she met her new husband- a swedish man. She has 2 children that are 27 years old and 18 years old from her previous relationship.

So far Noi’s experience in Sweden has been very positive- she loves nature and spends time in the forest picking mushrooms. She would, however, like to learn more swedish, and she misses her children very much. Noi worked in a shoe factory in Thailand so she was able to transfer that experience to a job at Yalla Trappan. She also loves to sew at home in her spare time. Her goals in her life include being healthy, feeling good, and earning her own money. Her dream is to someday live in the forest, perhaps on a farm.