Making knitting a tool to support Bosnian women who have experienced trauma? This is the challenge that Nadira sets herself in Sarajevo by creating her association Udruzene, which means “united women” in Bosnian. Discover her path.
Linking Paris to Sarajevo in an ethical and professional way
In 1992, when she was 22, Nadira is forced to leave Bosnia, a country she loves but which was going through a terrible war. She moves then to Paris where she learns French and finishes her studies in literature. Interested in fashion, she also studies at a design school.
Despite the distance and years that pass, her attachment to her country doesn’t fade. She actually thinks about designing there a project covering two of her interests: fashion and social issues. At the beginning, she helps an association of Bosnian knitters by offering some of their products to Parisian shops. “I was the link between these women and the salesmen and designers,” she explains.
From this experience, she decides in 2011 to return to Sarajevo to develop her own project. Thus the organization Udruzene comes true with the aim to support Bosnian knitters who have been victims of war and persecution.
Beneficial effects in different spheres
Nadira wants to bring a “change for Bosnian women” who have suffered psychological and physical trauma during the conflicts that affected the country from 1992 to 1995. “I saw in them the desire and the need to get out of it,” she continues. Knitting, an ancestral and very widespread know-how in the countryside, allows them to regain confidence in themselves and their abilities, and to become financially independent.
Knitting has also therapeutic effects. It is scientifically proven: “the rhythmic movement of the needles releases serotonin, the hormone of happiness”, Nadira explains with a smile.
Udruzene also helps to heal the tensions between the different ethnic groups – Bosniacs, Serbs, Croats. Tensions which started the conflicts. Around their balls and works, knitters mix together, unite and help each other regardless of their ethnicity.
The promotion of quality know-how in Bosnia and abroad
Wool, alpaca, llama, cashmere, silk, cotton, natural and organic materials are chosen with great care. Shaped on the needles of talented knitters, they create quality products.
To learn professional techniques, women are trained by the association. They can then join the team of production that designs the items ordered by customers who are mainly from Germany, France and Austria. A weekly follow-up is carried out to meet the requirements.
Women who want to can pass on their knowledge by giving knitting lessons as a hobby; another great way to promote them!
Find Udruzene on Facebook here.