RAI artisans are from all over the world. Here are our current artisans and their stories:
Adiba came to the United States in December 2017. She has 3 children. Since resettling in America, Adiba says she is proud of being able to support her family financially. In Afghanistan, she was a teacher. She is currently working on getting her driver’s license so she does not have to rely on her husband for transportation.
Baseerah came to the United States in 2003. She has six children (five daughters and one son). She learned how to sew starting at 12 years old back home in Afghanistan, beading, embroidering pillows, and making her own clothes. Now, in the US, Baseerah dreams about starting her own business all the time. She would like to open a sewing business or a small restaurant.
Diba moved to the US in December 2016 with her husband and 5 children. She is from Afghanistan, but lived with her family in Iran for 3 years and then in Turkey almost 5 years while awaiting entry into the United States. Diba learned to sew in Iran where she found work in a small family run apparel workshop and learned to sew on industrial machines. After arriving in the US, Diba was delighted to find RAI through Refugee Women’s Alliance. She sews throughout the day between cooking, cleaning and caring for her family. Diba would love to receive more work and more complicated sewing work such as alterations and garment making. She wants to eventually have her own sewing business, but she is working on improving her English first to be able to communicate better with clients.
Farida is a refugee from Afghanistan who came to the U.S. in 2019. She started sewing ten years ago and is highly skilled. In Afghanistan, Farida had her own custom women’s clothing business and was a trainer, teaching almost 40 students how to sew. After resettling in the US, she heard about RAI through a friend. Her goal is to not only make RAI label products, but also to continue creating high quality custom clothing to sell. For fun, Farida likes to cook Afghan foods like qabli pulao and manto. She also likes to exercise and drive the new car her husband bought for her after arriving in the United States.
Hpala is from Myanmar. She immigrated to the US in 2019 with her husband and 3 children. They are Christians which made it difficult for them to have a peaceful life in Myanmar. She loves working for RAI for two major reasons: one is being able to earn a living doing what she’s good at and the other is to be able to work from home. It would be impossible to take care of 3 kids at home now if she had to work outside the home. Hpala likes to make candles, a new skill she learned from RAI.
Inzali is from Myanmar. She was referred to us by one of the artisans during the height of mask making last summer. Inzali has had other sewing jobs in the past. She likes being able to work from home while taking care of her family. She is skilled in making different kinds of garments. She is the primary provider for her family while her husband is looking for other work during COVID..
Julie is a single mother of three young children and a refugee from Myanmar. We recruited Julie through our partnership with the Refugee Women's Alliance. She was working full-time at a manufacturing sewing job in Seattle with over a one-hour commute, which was just not feasible for her young family . Julie is very happy to be working with RAI and we're expanding her crafting skills in as many areas as she's willing to learn.
Karima is from Morocco with a grown son. She speaks French and Arabic. Karima does simple sewing projects and wants to build up skills in our program to take on more projects. She is currently taking English classes.
Mahbooba's story coming soon!
Rahel came to the US from Ethiopia with her husband 10 years ago. Rahel is one of the first artisans we hired through our partnerships with MUSES. She has two children. They also have two adopted children in Ethiopia. Rahel loves to sew, embroider and make jewelry. RAI has made her dream come true to support her in creating her own small business, her home sewing shop to support her family. Rahel’s husband Alem is also in RAI’s team helping with transporting materials and products whenever we need him.
Razma came to the United States in 2020. She has three children and heard about Refugee Artisan Initiative from a cousin. Razma learned how to sew from her mother back home in Afghanistan. She learned to make everything including traditional Afghan clothes. Today, Razma is happy in the US and looks forward to the chance to improve. Her goal is to work and generate her own income.
Sandar came to the US less than two years ago from Myanmar to join her husband. She is a skilled sewer and was working in a manufacturing job in Thailand while waiting to come to the U.S. Sandar works part-time at an Amazon fulfillment center and part-time sewing from home. She plans to improve her English and be able to take on more projects through RAI.
Siu's story coming soon!
Yalda came to the United States in 2017. After resettling in Seattle, Yalda found work with RAI through Refugee Women's Alliance. She is happy that she can sew and earn money while staying home with her three children (two daughters and one son). Yalda was a primary school teacher in Afghanistan and misses it. She is a self-taught sewer, enjoys sewing projects as a hobby, and is proud of her growth. Yalda’s dream is to open a shop with her husband where they can sell traditional Afghan clothes and other items.