International Examiner | Refugee Artisan Initiative brings dozens of job opportunities for immigrant women: “Sewing is a universal language”

June 2, 2022 | Seattle, Washington - 

By: Debby Cheng


RAI’s executive director, Ming-Ming Tung-Edelman, was inspired by her grandmother who raised Tung-Edelman’s mother and her uncle by sewing clothes. Tung-Edelman noticed that refugee women, in the U.S. particularly, have the highest unemployment rate amongst all other communities, and she believed it was her time to give back to the community after being in the country for over three decades.

As of 2019, only 40% of the refugee women in the U.S. are employed, while the global refugee women’s labor market participation rate is low as 6%.

As an immigrant from Taiwan, Tung-Edelman understood what refugee women had to go through in terms of learning a new language and obtaining an education. With RAI, she was hoping to create more opportunities for women who have the same skill set as her grandmother to be able to use their skills to provide financial support for their families.

“Oftentimes people have the notion that refugees are coming here [the U.S.] because they are desperate, which is true, but other times they are here because they want us to help them without knowing what they could contribute,” Tung-Edelman said.

She said all refugees “have so much potential.”

Read the rest of the article and learn about how RAI empowers refugee and immigrant women to break down barriers through sewing and investing in the skill sets they come with.


Photo: Debby Cheng

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