When Bahija Karim arrived in Idaho as an Afghan refugee in 2005, she knew little about American culture. She didn’t speak English. A volunteer directed her to Artisans for Hope, a local crafts initiative for refugees.
There, she was taught crafting skills and English. Artisans for Hope took Karim on field trips. They found her a job with a seamstress, which she held for nine years, and then they helped her start her own custom drapery business, The Golden Needle.
Karim says Artisans for Hope helped her feel like an empowered member of her new community. With their help, she says, “all the people know we are human beings. We could make something for ourselves, for them, for the country, for the community.”
Around the world, crafting is being used as a tool to help refugees — and especially women — get acclimated to a host country, learn skills and, sometimes, earn a living.