We want refugee women to have hope for the future. That's the essence of Journey Home's mission. Every handcrafted item we sell is produced with that goal in mind. How do upcycled rice bag totes and embellished hand towels accomplish that, you ask? That's where our story begins.
The seeds for our economic development project, Journey Home, started with a tragic accident. A refugee man was killed in a horrific car wreck, leaving behind a widow and 6 children. Because of lack of transportation and childcare, this woman had rarely left her apartment and had almost no English skills. Much of her life before arriving in America was spent fleeing the Burmese government; since arriving here, she had had little opportunity to learn employable skills.
Her future was bleak, and as we came alongside to help her, we received an introduction into the unique struggles faced by refugee mothers. For those who have young children, going to English classes is hard and having opportunity to practice the language is harder still. This limits furture employment. Their husbands often work long hours and are gone for 10-12+ hours most of the week. Very few drive and thus they spend long days in small apartments with little opportunities for learning available.
Sewing Class Becomes More
We started with a sewing class, Make Welcome, which offered Bible studies, skills training and a place of community for our new refugee friends. But as we talked to our students, we learned more about the severe financial struggles their families faced. No matter how hard their husbands worked, money pressures never seemed to let up. These families didn't want to always receive handouts from charities to survive. They wanted to make their own way!
And this sparked the idea: what if we could help them use their new sewing skills as a way to earn money? What if the items they were learning to sew in class could be sold? What if we could help these precious ladies establish their own home sewing studios? And from this idea, Journey Home was launched.