Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Support Local Afghan Women Artisans

Refugee and immigrant women have the highest unemployment rate in the country. Language barriers and cultural differences create challenges for women to discover how to apply their skills and create work opportunities. Seattle’s Refugee Artisan Initiative (RAI) partners with immigrant women to foster an inclusive, prosperous transition to the U.S. through artisan skills training in zero-waste and small-batch manufacturing. We are humbled to be working with Refugee Artisan Initiative in conjunction with our upcoming world premiere of A Thousand Splendid Suns.

The organization helps women utilize and improve the skills they have already developed in their home country and helps connect women with jobs that utilize those skills and contribute to their family and community. In many cases Refugee Artisan Initiative helps the women receive their first personal paycheck in the U.S.

We are collaborating with RAI to commission and fairly compensate the Afghan women who have chosen to design and embroider a custom garment that will be unveiled in the Opera Center at Seattle Opera’s event Jashin: A Celebration of Afghan Arts” on February 11, 2023.

RAI writes, “The nomadic Kochiani people of Afghanistan are celebrated for their colorful, vibrant, and finely embroidered clothing – especially their dresses. The Kochiani Project will allow the voices of Afghanistan’s women – past and present – to speak through the talented hands of RAI’s refugee artisans. Six RAI artisans from Afghanistan will construct a dress composed of 20 panels, as sketched above by RAI's production manager, Alpaja. Each panel will reflect a different embroidery style and region of Afghanistan and require roughly 30 person-hours to complete per panel.”

Please consider supporting this project that showcases the immense talents of Refugee Artisan Initiative’s Afghan women artisans.

Refugee Artisan Initiative is collecting donations this holiday season on their website. Your contribution supports wages for refugee and immigrant women. RAI also accepts donations of relevant materials to produce fabric jewelry. Contact RAI if you are able to contribute.

Supplies accepted:

  • • Beads
  • • Fabric
  • • Scissors
  • • Thread
  • • Sewing machines

Based in the Lake City neighborhood in Seattle, RAI currently partners with nine Afghan women refugees. Learn more about RAI at www.refugeesarts.org.

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