Syrian shoemakers flourish in Turkish apparel sector
by Anadolu Agency
KONYA, TurkeySep 12, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Anadolu Agency
Sep 12, 2015 12:00 am
Displaced by the ongoing conflict in their country, Syrian shoemakers are finding new life and employment in the central city of Konya, a shoe production hub where the demand is high for skilled labor in the shoe manufacturing sector.
Mustafa Lamcı, director of an association of Turkish shoe manufacturers, welcomes Syrian employees who mostly hail from Aleppo, the northern Syrian city famous for shoe craftsmen skilled in making handmade shoes. As with everything in the country, Aleppo's shoe sector was affected by the four-year civil war that has forced millions of Syrians to flee their country to Turkey. Lamcı said Syrian craftsmen address their need for skilled labor while unskilled Syrian workers also help boost lacking manpower in the sector. "We have great potential waiting to be tapped," he said.
Still, it is a challenge for Syrian shoemakers accustomed to working on producing a pair of handmade shoes for hours to get used to working with machinery that enables them to churn out shoes in one day.
Muhammad Fahl, 39, who took shelter in Konya after fleeing his hometown of Aleppo more than a year ago, easily adapted to life in Turkey as he already knew basic Turkish. He recounted how shoemaking was a booming business in Aleppo. "Aleppo shoes are famous for their craftsmanship, quality and attention to even the smallest details to decorate the shoes. Shoemakers never abandon quality production to save time. Since my childhood, I have worked as a shoemaker. I specialized in women's shoes. When the war broke out, the business stalled. When the situation became unbearable we left everything behind and left our country. We were penniless because we were making shoes that were exported to Turkey, Lebanon, Libya and Russia, but all exports ceased because of the war. I had to earn a living for my five children and I found this job," he said.