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Markaz Product Assembly
Generating much needed income for low income women in several areas, all Markaz final products are assembled in Cairo by specialized NGOs that are both trained in quality control and supervised by Markaz.
Markaz also cooperates with groups in the garbage collection areas in Mansheyit Nasr and the NGO (Association for protection of the environment APE) which is specialized in making recycled products such as paper and rugs.
In Imbaba, Markaz collaborates with an informal group, the majority of which are female headed households that deliver chain-stitch embroidery.
In 1965 batik was introduced to the children at the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center near Harraniya: the arts centre originally renowned for its world-famous tapestries. By choosing batik, the founder, Ramses, wanted to demonstrate that creativity could be brought out through another medium – particularly one that had not been present in Egypt before. In contrast to weaving, batik requires fast work. Its use of molten wax and phase dying means that those who learn this technique have to be quick of hand and eye. In batik, the cloth is dipped repeatedly into different dyes which range from clear to opaque. Elements of the design which are of the same colour are drawn in wax before dipping the cloth into the next dye. The versatility of batik allows one to make tablecloths, fabrics and wall pictures.
Born out of a love for crafts, Markaz is fueled by the belief that things are made beautiful by the stories that goes into their creation. One of those stories is about the women from Fayoum and their macramé skill brought to life today in a range of custom made funky household accessories which generate income for the women from the village of Aboxa and their families.
Markaz is keen to incorporate the colorful knitwork created by the students at The Tawasol Community School in Old Cairo. #Tawasol students are educated both academically and practically. On the practical level the school incorporates innovative vocational training techniques to teach students specific crafts such as painting, embroidery, knitting and crochet. This helps ensure that the kids remain in school and do not return to the street because it provides them with income to support their parents, who may otherwise have put them to work in sweatshops.
Crochet is a centuries-old craft that takes its name from the French word for hook. Crochet Stitches are created by looping and twisting yarn around a hook. The early development of the craft of crochet is linked to the imitation of lace and lace making.
While the exact origins of crochet are unclear as the skill was originally passed on through word of mouth, theories exist that crochet evolved from traditional practices in Iran, South America or China, but there is little decisive evidence of the craft being performed before its popularity in Europe during the 19th century.
Crochet was introduced to the women of Helwan by Bashayer; a local NGO established in 1987, running a variety of programmes including crochet and a sewing production unit that employs more than 300 women.
Many of the products at Markaz include a variety of craft skills from around Egypt, as well as nontraditional skills such as crochet work created by the women of Helwan. Markaz supports skills with reliable NGOs (nongovernmental community organizations) registered with the ministry of social solidarity.