The Survival of Art and The Tailor from Aleppo by guest blogger Caroline Oldershaw

Despite the fact that a current candidate for President of the United States asked “what’s Aleppo?” when asked about his Middle East policies – I will assume that most of us know – if nothing else – that Syrian people are leaving their homeland to escape violence, destruction, privation, and death. According to the Migration Policy Centre, “an estimated 11 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of the civil war in March 2011. Now, in the sixth year of war, 13.5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance within the country. Among those escaping the conflict, the majority have sought refuge in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 4.8 million have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, and 6.6 million are internally displaced within Syria. Meanwhile about one million have requested asylum to Europe.”

The vast number of human lives and scale of distress are difficult for me to fathom. Perhaps that is why an unusual story in the Washington Post about Ibrahim Halil Dudu caught my attention. Dudu and his family had just recently been granted asylum in Canada and had joined their host family in Guelph, Ontario.

One Sunday, at the home where Dudu and his family now lived with their hosts, a neighbor appeared. She was a bridesmaid in a wedding that afternoon and the wedding party was preparing next door. She was desperately seeking a tool with which to fix a broken zipper on the bride’s dress. It turns out that Dudu is a tailor, and he went next door and repaired the dress, to the great relief of all.

On the surface, the tale has a happy ending – an auspicious beginning to the wedding about to take place. Yet there is more. Take a look at the picture of Dudu. As I gaze at the intensity with which he sews, I see Dudu’s capacity to immerse into the richness of his craft. He can draw on his art and his training, in the most stressful of circumstances. If I lost my home, my possessions, my business, and quite literally the ground beneath my feet, would I be able to do the same?

Can it be that our art, our trade, our creative impulses can be a source of survival – a portable wellspring of hope that dwells within us always? How to preserve and deepen the capacity to create in any and all circumstances is but one lesson from this tailor from Aleppo. To use our art as a bridge to others, and a service that is remembered with joy.

tree caroline

~Caroline Oldershaw








Room for ONE MORE in my Keep It Simple Writing Circle that meets on the 2nd Wednesday of the Month in Prairie du Sac. And I am available for one-to-one consultation around your writing and creative projects: 

42 thoughts on “The Survival of Art and The Tailor from Aleppo by guest blogger Caroline Oldershaw

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