In celebration of World Refugee Day, an international event voicing support for displaced persons in every community globally, one Albuquerque group hosted a crafts fair where refugee women sold handmade goods.
Women’s Global Pathways is a branch of the Immigrant Refugee Resource Village of Albuquerque, whose mission is “empowering the most marginalized populations of New Mexico including refugee, other immigrant local low income women, girls and their families.”
Their work aims to help this population with some of the common issues they face, including acquiring transportation, breaking language barriers and securing jobs.
WGP, currently based in PB&J Family Services, teaches the refugees English, transports them to and from the center and teaches new marketable skills, honing the ones they already have to create a microenterprise that directly benefits the families.
On World Refugee Day, WGP hosted a craft fair featuring jewelry, clothing, accessories and other items handcrafted by the women. One hundred percent of the proceeds went directly to the artisans.
Programs Director Nkazi Sinandile said the importance of the craft fair and the microenterprise is more than creating an income for the families—it is also meant to show that refugees are not helpless, and they can contribute to the economy.
“The refugees struggle when they’re here, but when supported by the community, they are able to contribute and give back,” Sinandile said. “This is our way of saying, ‘Here we are. We may have challenges, but we also have contributions as we try to become self-sufficient.’”
Recent terrorist acts and the current political climate have created a hostile environment for refugees, but she said there is a silver lining.
“While people are antagonistic towards refugees, there’s more visible love and reception being given to refugees too,” Sinandile said.
She hopes that events like these can help create a more positive, human image of refugees.
Gabriella Rivera is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @gabbychlamps.