My name is Noora Sharrab, I'm a social entrepreneur and humanitarian and I'm the co-founder of Bubu & Lulu Toys. I wanted to share with you how Bubu & Lulu all started.
A few years ago I used to live in Amman, Jordan and was working very actively within the Refugee community in Jordan. In 2014, I had my first baby, Iyad (also famously called, YODA [yes, like Star Wars Yoda :P]) and I cared a lot about what toys I was purchasing for my little one.
Through my work with my NGO, Hopes for Women in Education, I was rigorously working at the Jerash Refugee Camp [aka. Gaza Refugee Camp] in Jordan (read more about Jerash Refugee Camp here from UNRWA's Website) and was introduced to the UNRWA Rehabilitation Centre's Carpentry workshop. At the workshop, we met disabled refugees that were trained in the skill of carpentry and in particular we had the honour to meet an incredible soul, Hassan.
Hassan, is a deaf carpenter that was born and raised in Jerash Refugee Camp, is married and has a 5-year-old son. He is hardworking, passionate about learning and had such hope in his eyes. When we first met, he introduced us to some toys he was producing and it's then that we felt we can really work closely with him to create beautiful handmade wooden toys. This is where the idea for Bubu & Lulu was born.
We worked with a talented illustrator and designer in Amman, Linda Ali, where she creatively hand sketched every 18 characters see in our original block set design. From there she illustrated the photos to what they are today.
It was so important for us to include Hassan in the process and to work with him closely to ensure each piece was cleaned off, didn't have sharp edges, etc. When we were working on the block set, I kept thinking of Yoda, and how he would use them. This meant that the toys were not sprayed with any harsh chemicals, the stickers on the blocks were toxic-free and the blocks weren't sharp on the edges.
We even thought very carefully of our box design, by having it be super durable, with a magnet flap (easy to open and close) and a plastic handle for easy carrying, especially when you are on the go and want to bring along a toy on your journey.
These block sets were our way to create something with our own kids in mind, as well as, providing employment and income opportunities for Hassan and other carpenters-in-training at the workshop. We know how conscious and ethical purchasing can truly impact small businesses, and local artists and this is what we sought to do with Bubu & Lulu.
So, why Bubu & Lulu? Well, when Yoda was first born we used to nickname him, "Bubu" and my co-founder, Rania Turk, who was also a new mommy at the time would nickname her baby girl "Lulu". We both thought, what better inspiration do we have for these toys than our own little ones, who are motivating us to make a change one toy at a time.
It's a small contribution but it counts.
So today, when you consider purchasing one of our block sets, think of where it's going and why.