Mollie Symons and Aspen Murray, a recent high school graduate from Hartland, N.B. began the campaign together.
“We are both very involved in our school and home community environments,” said Symons, “and also very passionate about social justice causes, international development and supporting refugees, both in our home communities and abroad.”
Naji translates as 'survivor' in Arabic. Symons says, our mission is to recognize the tenacity and trials of refugees the world over, to start conversations about how we can support and welcome them, and to raise money.
Each shirt has Naji with the 'a' as a heart inscribed on the left sleeve.
The two young women are close friends who met two years ago on a scholarship trip to Europe that focused on Canada's involvement in the World Wars.
The constant civilian bloodbath due to the Syrian government's decisive campaign to recapture all of Aleppo that was successful this past December is what prompted them to launch this project.
“Aspen messaged me and said, ‘I can't just keep reading about this in the news all the time anymore. We have to do something.’ And so we said "Let's do something together,” Symons noted.
“We both love fashion, ethical fashion, and fashion with a purpose. Aspen is a talented visual artist and we both love to write, we love the power of words and their ability to spread positive messages, uplift people and start progressive conversations.” Creating and selling t-shirts to start conversations and raise money in support of NGOs and initiatives already doing tireless and amazing work for and with Syrian refugees was what we decided to launch together, she said.
They currently have five different shirt designs.
“We created four of these on our own and one of them was created by Syrian refugee Mahmoud Tahina, a recent Horton High School graduate who lives in Wolfville and is a friend of mine.”
His shirt says 'Peace' in English and Arabic and we are so grateful for his support and insight into our project, Symons said.
“We are working on more designs and are also looking at putting our designs on tote bags, baseball shirts and maybe crew neck sweaters in the future.”
All the proceeds from sales are split between the Multicultural Association of Carleton County (in Woodstock, N.B., near Murray’s home), which is providing support for government assisted refugees and Médecins Sans Frontières (or Doctors Without Borders) and their indefatigable work with refugees from Syria and so many other countries.
“We are very excited to be collaborating with the Annapolis Valley Honour Choir this fall,” says Symons, “when they are doing a concert with all choristers wearing our t-shirts.”
Symons is attending Queen's University this fall pursuing International Development and Murray is heading to McGill University with the same focus in mind.
Buying Shirts right now
For those wanting to buy shirts, Symons currently has some of all the styles in different sizes (they come in women's and men's small, medium, and large, but other sizes could be ordered). Interested buyers can contact Symons at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a shirt and arrange pickup. They are $20 each.