Women immigrants build friendships, profits in Louisville

Women immigrants build friendships, profits in Louisville

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) -  Inside the basement of the Americana Community Center, a group of immigr ant women are concentrated on their craft.

The weekly meetings of the Fiberworks Project at the Americana Center have evolved from a social setting to a profitable business.

While the group meets, the women converse in both Arabic and English - and no matter how they communicate they take care of business.

"For the National Center for Family Learning Conference, they did about 1,000 totes," Emilie Dyer said.

Dyer works for Americana and oversees Fiberworks. She said the program began uniting immigr ant women through sewing.

"It's based purely on the interest and drive of the people who are in the Fiberworks program," Dyer says.

The Fiberworks program promotes positive integration into the Louisville community for immigrant and refugee women. Participants in the program work on their English, build a social support network, learn fiber art skills and create crafts to earn supplemental income.

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In the past year, Emily said one leader has invigorated the group to go further than socializing and practicing English.

"This prepares them for work and some of them have dreams to build their own business so it is a great start for them," Rasha Hassan said.

Rasha Hassan learned to sew as a young girl in Iraq. As the Fiberwork Artist Coordinator, she's able to relate to the women who she guides in their sewing.

"I came from the same circumstances," Hassan said. "I know how it is very hard to get involved in this society, which is different."

In addition to the contracted projects, the women sell items online and during pop-up shops.

The artists keep 90 percent of their profit and 10 percent funds are returned to Fiberworks.

"It takes a unique combination of characteristics to make a good Fiberworks coordinator and I think that Rasha is a fine example of that," Dyer said.

"I love art, and I'm helping support other women and empowering them," Hassan said.

Rasha said she goes home every day proud of the women she's surrounded by.

"We are women from all over the world," Hassan said. "We have women from Iraq, Syria, from Yemen, from Libya, from Afghanistan, from India. This is like another home for us."

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