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OUR MISSION

OUR MISSION

At Refugee Artisan Initiative, we partner with refugee and immigrant women to help them achieve their dreams. We hold that sewing is a universal language: women of diverse backgrounds find community together as they use needles and thread. In this safe space, women develop their skills, their confidence, their entrepreneurship, and their sense of purpose.  

MISSION:

RAI partners with refugee and immigrant women to foster an inclusive, prosperous transition to the US through artisan skills training and micro business development.

VISION:

A community that values and invests in refugee and immigrant women as they achieve economic independence.

The four pillars of RAI’s work:

Equity

With a strength-based approach, RAI’s programs meet women where they are, celebrating their talents. The model of flexible, at-home work empowers artisans to overcome barriers to employment such as child care responsibilities, language, and lack of transportation, to earn equitable income, and to achieve economic stability.

Training

Whatever her sewing level, each artisan receives ongoing support from the team at RAI, including opportunities to practice English language skills, assistance obtaining a business license for her home sewing business, and ongoing training in specialized skills such as tailoring and mending. 

Sustainability 

RAI diverts thousands of pounds of textiles and other materials from landfills each year and utilizes these upcycled materials to create unique hand-crafted items. The artisans specialize in creating innovative designs to give a second life to hard-to-recycle items such as coffee bags and fire hoses. 

Community

RAI is a safe space for women where each artisan can find community and build her confidence as she builds her new life. RAI also serves as a resource for all community members who want to learn about upcycling, the circular economy, and the refugee and immigrant experience.

At Refugee Artisan Initiative, we partner with refugee and immigrant women to help them achieve their dreams. We hold that sewing is a universal language: women of diverse backgrounds find community together as they use needles and thread. In this safe space, women develop their skills, their confidence, their entrepreneurship, and their sense of purpose.  

MISSION:

RAI partners with refugee and immigrant women to foster an inclusive, prosperous transition to the US through artisan skills training and micro business development.

VISION:

A community that values and invests in refugee and immigrant women as they achieve economic independence.

The four pillars of RAI’s work:

Equity

With a strength-based approach, RAI’s programs meet women where they are, celebrating their talents. The model of flexible, at-home work empowers artisans to overcome barriers to employment such as child care responsibilities, language, and lack of transportation, to earn equitable income, and to achieve economic stability.

Training

Whatever her sewing level, each artisan receives ongoing support from the team at RAI, including opportunities to practice English language skills, assistance obtaining a business license for her home sewing business, and ongoing training in specialized skills such as tailoring and mending. 

Sustainability 

RAI diverts thousands of pounds of textiles and other materials from landfills each year and utilizes these upcycled materials to create unique hand-crafted items. The artisans specialize in creating innovative designs to give a second life to hard-to-recycle items such as coffee bags and fire hoses. 

Community

RAI is a safe space for women where each artisan can find community and build her confidence as she builds her new life. RAI also serves as a resource for all community members who want to learn about upcycling, the circular economy, and the refugee and immigrant experience.

OUR FOUNDER

OUR FOUNDER

Ming-Ming Tung-Edelman was herself an immigrant from Taiwan. Drawing on her own experience, she founded RAI in 2017 to help refugee and immigrant women overcome barriers to employment.

Growing up with a grandmother who sewed all her family’s clothing by hand, Ming-Ming developed an early admiration for the talent, hard work, and dedication within the sewing trade. When Ming-Ming immigrated from Taiwan over 33 years ago, she pursued an education and became a pharmacist, but wanted to do more to help other immigrant women like herself achieve financial independence.

With global crises bringing refugee and immigrant women to the U.S. in record numbers, she saw an opportunity to reach these women and help them build a better life for themselves and their families. Her outreach quickly grew into a non-profit, and Refugee Artisan Initiative was born. RAI welcomes every refugee and immigrant artisan with care and support.

“My grandma ‘Ama,’ the lady in her brown coat, was able to raise my mom and her two sons alone as a home-based seamstress. She made most of my clothes growing up, like the white dress I wore here for my fifth birthday while cutting the birthday cake she baked for me. Ama was able to use her sewing skills to become self-reliant.”

Ming-Ming Tung-Edelman was herself an immigrant from Taiwan. Drawing on her own experience, she founded RAI in 2017 to help refugee and immigrant women overcome barriers to employment.

Growing up with a grandmother who sewed all her family’s clothing by hand, Ming-Ming developed an early admiration for the talent, hard work, and dedication within the sewing trade. When Ming-Ming immigrated from Taiwan over 33 years ago, she pursued an education and became a pharmacist, but wanted to do more to help other immigrant women like herself achieve financial independence.

With global crises bringing refugee and immigrant women to the U.S. in record numbers, she saw an opportunity to reach these women and help them build a better life for themselves and their families. Her outreach quickly grew into a non-profit, and Refugee Artisan Initiative was born. RAI welcomes every refugee and immigrant artisan with care and support.

“My grandma ‘Ama,’ the lady in her brown coat, was able to raise my mom and her two sons alone as a home-based seamstress. She made most of my clothes growing up, like the white dress I wore here for my fifth birthday while cutting the birthday cake she baked for me. Ama was able to use her sewing skills to become self-reliant.”

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