March 21st has been designated by the United Nations as “International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” regardless of their race, skin color, sex, language, religion, political opinion, or national origin.
Still, in the year 2017, there are many populations worldwide that are discriminated against for these very things. Oftentimes, refugees and others forced flee their homes are the target of discrimination in their new communities. Today, UNHCR estimates that there 14.4 million refugees and 38 million internally displaced people (who’ve had to leave their homes but not their country) worldwide, and on this day, the United Nations hopes to draw attention to the war and violence causing them to leave their homes and start a conversation about the discrimination they often face in the communities that they’ve settled in. What can we do to welcome refugees into their new communities?
Global Handmade Hope is working with refugee populations in East Africa through our partnership with Amani Ya Juu, a social enterprise in Nairobi, Kenya, to produce several of our products. Amani was started after its founders fled Liberia in 1996, during that nation’s civil war, and found themselves living in a refugee camp in Kenya. The women in the camp, seeking community, formed a craft circle and began weaving placemats to sell at local hotels and restaurants. As their ranks swelled and demand for their product grew, they found something they hadn’t bargained for - a sustainable wage, dignified work, and - ultimately - healing. Amani now has work centers located in refugee communities throughout East Africa, bringing work and hope to thousands of women and families.
We’re so proud to be a part of this work helping refugee populations get back on their feet. In ways big and small, we are fighting back against discrimination and helping these women find a community and make a new life for themselves.
Here are the links to a couple of products made by Amani Ya Juu's artisans.
Amani Ya Juu's Kenya Sewing Facility