The origins of the WaLa tapestry awards

Why is the WaLa award presented in the form of a tapestry?

The origins of the WaLa tapestry award (translated by Gitta & Seán Bourke)

When the WaLa Festival was first started, one of its main aims was to draw attention to the situation of people living in conflict areas and to give them a voice, for example, children and women living in dire straits. Their terrible situation infiltrates their lives like a creeping venom, however, it also stands for one of the tragedies of the entire human race. Women and children are the most vulnerable members of a society that is marked by wars and conflicts. Trying to find a way to support these women and children led to the founding of the ”WaLa Festival Award” initiated by the team of the NGO “WaLa Friendship e.V.”

This was the beginning of the WaLa tapestry award, a superbly crafted wall hanging, which has been awarded since to every winner of the film festival. The tapestries are handcrafted elaborately by young people and women in Pakistan and Afghanistan enabling them to earn a living for their families. The initiator of this idea was Amin Nadem, who has been well-known to festival founder Mohammad Hassan Nazeri for many years. The “Nadem Amin – Foundation for Art and Cultural Education” teaches people the art of carpet weaving thereby offering poor families the chance to work and earn money. Thus, the WaLa Festival Award serves two purposes: Not only is the award a beautiful souvenir for the winner, and a totally new form of award, it also provides a wonderful opportunity for supporting young people and women, especially those living in a society that shows little recognition of the rights of mothers and children.

In these crisis-ridden areas, there are normally no positive role models or chances for the people, only a life without hope – unless they get help, such as through Amin Nadem’s initiative, which the festival team is wholeheartedly supporting. Through this initiative people born in the midst of a major humanitarian crisis and surrounded by tragedies are given the chance to live a life in dignity. This enables them to improve their lot and their future prospects despite their disastrous situation.

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