Thursday, June 20th is World Refugee Day - a day that is obviously special to us at Thread Spun. Spearheaded by the United Nations, the day offers us the chance to commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees and to advocate on behalf of refugees internationally and domestically.
A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. Two-thirds of all refugees worldwide come from just five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia. Refugee groups are diverse and multifaceted, and each individual is much more than their experiences.
Photograph courtesy of The Aja Project
Photograph courtesy of Roberto "Bear" Guerra
Photograph courtesy of The San Diego Refugee Forum
As they begin life anew with little more than what they can carry, refugees face many challenges, from learning a new language to securing housing and employment. At Thread Spun, we are hiring resettled refugees and paying them a fair wage to complete dignified and meaningful employment. This is not just a job, but a first step to restoring a person's dignity and furthering their integration into local communities.
There are many organizations and business like ours that help resettled refugees by providing job training, meaningful employment opportunities and community support. We've put together this list of some of our favorites in honor of World Refugee Day.
Photos courtesy of Prosperity Candle
Each and every Prosperity candle is hand-poured in their U.S.A. studio by women artisans resettled from refugee camps, now earning a living wage in Western Massachusetts. Plus, their candles use only premium fragrances and never any dyes or enhancers. Check our their line of Burmese Candles, inspired by the amazing qualities they carried with them throughout a difficult journey, or check out a variety of scents. Learn more about their mission here.
Gaia Empowered Women
Photos courtesy of Gaia Empowered Women
While Gaia Empowered Women is currently evolving and is no longer making products, we will always look up to this business and its founder, Paula Minnis. GAIA creations evolved to empower refugee women through employment, encouragement and dedication to their long-term success in Dallas, Texas. Their resettled refugee artisans made beautifully-crafted handmade accessories including purses, bags and jewelry. While they're no longer crafting in their studio, Paula has plans to continue to support the artisan women in their future endeavors, so follow along on their website and Instagram to see where they land.
Re:new Project engages, equips and employs refugee women in the Chicago, Illinois, area. They work to provide a space for refugee women to thrive as they rebuild their hopes and dreams in the United States. They make cool crossbody bags, the sweetest baby bibs and receiving blankets and colorful coasters. Plus, we love their beautiful and worthwhile vision of becoming a society that values and seeks out flourishing relationships with its refugee neighbors.
Vickery Trading Co.
Speaking of babies and kids, we love Vickery Trading Co.'s bright and fun kid's clothes. Their mission is to equip refugee women for long-term success through vocational training, personal development and fair wages. They are currently offering training on sewing and businesses skills, providing mentoring and counseling, and creating fair wages for all of their seamstresses. Learn more here.
That's us! We've been creating dignified and meaningful employment for resettled refugee women here in San Diego, California, since 2014. Our artisans create handmade surfboard bags, accessories and home goods using fair trade, naturally-dyed and handwoven textiles from around the world. We have hired women from Burma and Afghanistan, who are paid above living wages/fair wages and have the flexibility to work out of their own homes and on their own time. Head over to our site to see what they're working on and to learn more about our artisan partners.
Photo courtesy of Maya Traditions