Syrian women to exhibit culture



A group of Syrian women are set to exhibit their culture next week.

Syrian former refugee Hana Alhkalilwill be among 10 displaying traditional Syrian clothing, handmade jewellery and food as part of the “Basmat Syria” exhibition at the Dunedin Community Gallery.

The exhibition will open on Thursday next week.

Mrs Alhkalil arrived in Dunedin on April 22 last year with her husband, Mohomad Issa Alomar, and then-2-year-old daughter Bissah, with the first group of Syrian former refugees to settle in the city.

Her second daughter, Meriam, was born just a few weeks after the family arrived in Dunedin.

Speaking with the support of an interpreter, Mrs Alhkalil said her English was “getting better”.

She was volunteering at her daughter’s kindergarten and the family was thankful for the “kindness” of their Red Cross volunteers.

“We are very happy.”

Her favourite things about Dunedin were the people and nature.

“We are getting used to living here.”

She was looking forward to the exhibition, which had been inspired by YouTube videos of similar projects by other New Zealand Syrians.

It would feature small profiles of all the women involved in it, alongside their displayed items, which included Syrian jewellery, wedding dresses and food.

While she hoped Red Cross volunteers, her English tutors and other supporters would attend the exhibition, it would also be a chance for the wider community to learn more about some of its new residents, Mrs Alhkalil said.

“They know only that we are refugees .. We want them to know about our culture, that we are Muslims, [why] we dress the way we dress.”

The exhibition, which has been supported by the Daybreak Trust, will run until Saturday, April 29, at the Dunedin Community Gallery, 26 Princes St, from 10.30am to 3pm.