Ramadan Decorations from Ramadan Camp, Syria: Upcycled Lanterns and Climate Action

13 April 2022
Nisreen al-Khatib and Huda Badawi up-cycling waste material into Ramadan lanterns. © 2022 UNRWA Photo

Nisreen al-Khatib and Huda Badawi turned a room in the Ramadan Camp[1] Community Centre, south-east of Damascus, into a workshop to produce handicrafts from recycled waste packaging materials. Their innovative ideas include reusing plastic containers, wrapping paper, tissue, magazines, bottle caps, glass and cardboard. Using these materials, they produce iconic Ramadan lanterns, as well as vases, bookmarks, photo frames, and even cardboard cupboards.

With the holy month of Ramadan upon us, Nisreen and Huda launched new ideas for how to decorate the Centre and their homes. This year, they are using egg cartons, thread and glue to make the lanterns.  For Nisreen and Huda, these lanterns are easy to make and with their unique creative touches the lanterns become not only decorations but are also an innovative way to upcycle waste products.

Both women live in the camp and serve their community by volunteering as teachers to adolescents at the Community Centre. Using their upcycling project, they can teach adolescents about the benefits of recycling to care for the environment.

Nisreen al-Khatib and Huda Badawi up-cycling waste material into Ramadan lanterns. © 2022 UNRWA Photo
Nisreen al-Khatib and Huda Badawi up-cycling waste material into Ramadan lanterns. © 2022 UNRWA Photo

Nisreen and Huda are passionate about recycling to reduce the impact of waste on the environment. “Household recycling is the best way forward,” 27-year-old Huda notes. “Through the reuse of paper towels, clothes and textiles, we can avoid pollution and produce new clothing and decorative objects,” adds Nisreen. “Recycling materials not only creates something beautiful out of waste, but it shows our community how to recycle themselves to protect the environment, especially since using recovered materials generates less solid waste,” Nisreen highlighted.

A mother of four, Nisreen (38), teaches sewing and recycling of old clothes and other textiles including old jeans for reuse. “Sewing skills can be a major asset when remaking a garment and recycling old jeans into new clothes for children,” she says.  She encourages her students by teaching and guiding them to be creative and artistic.  It was really exciting to master how to produce recycled products from the waste for a cleaner environment. We as members in the community have to foster this in people's minds,” she notes.  

A third-year student at the Faculty of Kindergarten at Damascus University, Huda teaches handicrafts at the Centre and has has been passionate about art since she was a child. She believes that this hobby provided her with an opportunity to practice and develop various skills, such as concentration and coordination. It also gives the experience of creativity and colour awareness. “My father encouraged me in this hobby by introducing me to crayons for scribbling and building manual dexterity,” Huda said.  

“I’ve always loved creating art that contributes to our lives,” Huda says. She hopes her students will also follow her example in preserving the environment. “If everyone does what I did, there would be less waste,” she adds. Through their products, they showed their community that recycling reduces waste, prevents pollution, and conserves natural resources and energy for a cleaner and brighter future.

[1] An unofficial gathering, not  an official UNRWA recognized camp.