Tag Archives: Refugee Artisan Initiative

Refugee Artisan Initiative Brings Job Opportunities for Immigrant Women

by Debby Cheng

(This article was originally published on the International Examiner and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


Refugee Artisan Initiative (RAI) is a women-centered organization that focuses on encouraging refugee women to use their handicraft skills to contribute to their family and community.

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Refugee Artisan Initiative’s Specialty Is Responding to Community Needs

by Kamna Shastri


It was just a year ago when Refugee Artisan Initiative’s (RAI) six artisans rapidly switched their handmade jewelry and clothing operation to make boxes brimming with cloth masks. In April 2020, COVID-19 had shut down the United States and Washington State hospitals were strained. There was a shortage of personal protection equipment like N95 and disposable masks that had to be reserved for healthcare professionals. Though the debate about whether to mask up was in high gear (and continues to be), to RAI founder and Executive Director Ming-Ming Tung-Edelman it was clear that masking up was not just a precaution but a responsibility.

With a background in biology and a part-time job as a pharmacist, Tung-Edelman could see the pandemic looming even before official lockdowns silenced roadways and sent cities into isolation. When the PPE shortage became apparent, Tung-Edelman saw an opportunity for RAI’s artisans to respond to an urgent local need. It was a “perfect storm,” she said of the mask shortage and COVID-19 precautions meeting the specific skill set of RAI’s artisans. 

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