Rolling out the welcome mat for refugees

Rolling out the welcome mat for refugees
Rolling out the welcome mat for refugees


    Rolling out the welcome mat for refugees


Rolling out the welcome mat for refugees 02:34

Story highlights

  • Two CNN Heroes teamed up for a new project to raise funds for refugee women
  • At the Welcome Project, refugees make welcome mats from old life vests

Chalkida, Greece (CNN)Two CNN Heroes have joined forces in a unique effort to help women caught in the global refugee crisis.

It started when they met at "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" in December.
    CNN Heroes Becca Stevens (left) and Luma Mufleh
    Becca Stevens was honored for her work helping women escape the streets and transform their lives through her nonprofit, Thistle Farms. Luma Mufleh was recognized for her efforts to help refugee children adapt to American life with her organization, Fugees Family. The two women immediately hit it off.
    "One of my favorite things about going through the whole journey of CNN was getting to meet (Luma)," Stevens said. "I was hoping that we could ... figure out a way to do a project together."
    One month later, Stevens asked Mufleh to collaborate with her on the Welcome Project. The endeavor helps women rebuild their lives using the life vests worn on their perilous journey -- by weaving them into welcome mats.
    Women weave a welcome mat at the Ritsona Refugee Camp in Greece for the Welcome Project
    In April, Stevens and Mufleh spent a week at the Ritsona Refugee Camp in Greece working with two other NGOs, I Am You and Lighthouse Relief, to get the project off the ground.
    Mufleh, a native of Jordan, used her language skills and cultural understanding to get women involved, while Stevens brought the design, looms and expertise.
    The welcome mats can be pre-ordered online, and all profits go directly to the women and programs in the camps.
    "It's a brutal life," Mufleh said. "To give empowerment and hope and opportunity and voice in something as simple as purchasing a mat -- I mean, it's that simple."
    The project provides tangible support, but Stevens says it's also symbolic.
    "The idea is that when people have been ... pulling up the welcome mats for refugees," she said. "We are laying down the welcome mat for them."
    "We can do so much better in welcoming people into our country," Mufleh added. "The welcome mat needs to be a little longer and a little wider and a little deeper."