Batool is from Iraq, where she worked in a library for many years. She has four children—three sons and a daughter—as well as many grandchildren. She and her children fled Baghdad about three years ago due to a heightened sense of insecurity from the militia. Unfortunately, they had to leave almost everything behind. Batool has lived in Chicago and been a part of Loom for about a year. Her husband passed away about 20 years ago and only one of her sons lives here in the city, but she hopes to receive her travel documents soon so that she can go see the rest of her family living in northern Iraq.
Here, Batool is trying to gain a new sense of home. Attending a weekly workshop, as well as additional sale events, and working on products at home give her a feeling of purpose and enjoyment. She says, “I’m just happy to be here with all of you. If I wasn’t here, I would be at home sitting, maybe watching TV. That’s why I love Loom. Everything in Chicago is expensive—shopping, movies, museums. Things I like to do cost too much money for me, especially without a job. But when I go to Loom, it’s fun! I get to be around other women, and it costs no money. They pay me.”
Batool is a talented artisan and fast learner with a contagious smile. At workshops, she and the other artisans often make jokes and sing in Arabic. She shows that the importance of Loom is so much more than just earning an income; it is also about building social relationships and creating work that gives meaning to the experience of refugee women.