The Story HxP
The Project initially began from the personal experience its founder, Micah Mulugeta Woldu, had when visiting the Bristol Refugee Rights Centre in St Pauls, Bristol. The University of Bristol experience was relatively isolated from the wider community and the constituent make-up of the University was diametrically different to Bristol as a whole. Something he, like many others in the student body did not comprehend, was the large refugee and asylum seeker base in the area.
It was evident from the facilities available, to the human interactions developed at the centre, that Bristol Refugee Rights filled a void in the community which could not be addressed by the local authority. Whilst this was the case, the student population had very little knowledge of the lives of those who attended the centre or a comprehension of the stories engraved in each individual. The hospitality and warmth experienced there was reminiscent of the treatment Micah had received at other places he had travelled to, from Nepal to Ethiopia. The gentleman who initially brought Micah to the centre, Andrew May, mentioned that getting students involved in the organisation was an ongoing issue with funding and volunteers on ration.
It was from this conversation Micah wondered: how do you engage a social media engulfed, Netflix transfixed, disillusioned generation with a subject matter which is affecting the lives of millions of people just like ourselves? A partial conclusion was to use mediums which people would be familiar with in an innovative way to bring to the fore the humanity behind the news bulletins, the truth among the false articles and the individual human story in the aggregate statistic.
This led to the birth of The Habibi Project as a platform to use creative arts to raise awareness towards humanitarian and environmental issues. The broad nature of the Project is a recognition that many of the greatest problems we are facing globally today are multifaceted, including environmental degradation, the exploitation of migrant workers in developing economies and gender injustice.
Coming from a generation with whom brands resonate deeply, Micah thought this to be one of the best means to engage young people on mass. Once the message of a company is understood, the consumer becomes further indoctrinated with every purchase: Nike – athletic, trendy, Just Do It; Yeezy – artistic, creative, edgy. The vision is that the Habibi Project will do the same, but with a fundamentally different message: ‘knowledge, compassion, action’ will be its core tenets.
The Habibi Project Clothing launched in December 2017 with a mission to engage. Chapter I constitutes the first range. Here is the first chapter in the brand’s story.