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Meet the Artisans

Re:new Artisans are refugee women who have survived war, persecution, or political conflict and have resettled in the United States. Re:new currently offers free training to seven refugee women and provides flexible employment to eight refugee women from different countries. Since our founding in 2009, Re:new has served over 140 refugee women from all over the world.


Fatma - Studio Manager
With a spirit that brings peace and unity to the Re:new team, it is hard to fathom the challenges Fatma overcame in her journey to the United States.
Originally from Somalia, Fatma left amidst the country’s political instability. During her journey from the village, soldiers robbed, attacked, and abused the women on the bus; stealing most of Fatma’s possessions. Unfortunately, this was only the first of many hardships during her experience as a refugee. Her family spent twelve years waiting for resettlement opportunities in Yemen’s dangerous refugee camps and housing projects. By the time her paperwork had been processed, her family had grown to five children. She was eventually approved but her husband was not.
Fatma was resettled in the United States as a single mom with five children in a community without family or friends. She found Re:new in 2009 and enrolled in the first sewing class. At Re:new, Fatma is known for her sewing skills, gentle character and caring nature. In addition to developing new handbag concepts for the store, Fatma is the studio manager and a mentor to the team of Artisans.
Despite the pain of her past, Fatma looks to the future with hope and anticipation. She’s dedicated to providing for her children and it’s her mission to put all five through college so they can achieve their dreams. Fatma dreams of starting her own business. An accomplished culinarian, she hopes to open a bakery or catering business one day.
Farida grew up in Uzbekistan as a Muslim Turk enjoying a meaningful career as a schoolteacher. In the blink of an eye, ethnic and religious persecution swept through their close-knit community, forcing them to flee to a neighboring country. Farida and her husband bravely ventured to discover a safe place for the family in Russia. They found what they thought was a safe community and invited the rest of the family to join them. Painful memories prevent Farida from discussing her experiences in Russia. 
Despite her difficult journey, Farida is known for her courage, sweet spirit, and quick wit. She joined the Re:new family in 2012 and is the oldest Artisan on the team.
“I believe in Re:new and the difference that it’s making,” she said. “For me, these women are my second family”.
Today, Farida and her husband are both U.S. citizens and have a growing family of two children and five grandchildren. She is a doting grandmother brimming with pride over her grandchildren’s characteristics and achievements. Farida finds joy in the little things in life - dancing with the Artisans, laughing with her husband, or spending time with her grandchildren. 
The mid-1990s were rife with political instability in Gyulnara’s home country of Uzbekistan. As a minority within the region, Gyulnara's family faced persecution for both their Turkish ethnicity and Muslim religion. They fled Uzbekistan in search of a safe life in a neighboring country but faced harassment and persecution upon their arrival. Gyulnara’s sister, Farida, located a place for the family to reunite in Russia and Gyulnara moved with her husband and children. Contrary to their hopes, life in Russia was anything but easy. The Russian government terrorized the population. Everything about life in Russia was difficult and uncertain. But, Gyulnara is resourceful and a fighter. Through persistence and ingenuity, Gyulnara became a midwife serving in the anesthesiology department in a hospital.
She eventually made her way to the United States with her family and became part of the Re:new family in 2012. Her strong will and determination have helped her adapt to challenges in America. Gyulnara uses her training as a midwife and nurse to care for others. 
Gyulnara’s true grit and willpower are contagious. She’s passionate about her work at Re:new. Gyulnara is known for her creative design talents and developing efficiencies in our systems. She is an Advanced Artisan and one of Re:new’s most gifted seamstresses. She takes great pride in the quality of her work and goes to great lengths to see Re:new succeed. Gyulnara also takes great pride in her family, with two grown children and four grandchildren who live close by.
Komila barely remembers her childhood in the Republic of Georgia. But she clearly recalls life in Russia after her family fled there to avoid persecution for their Turkish background and Muslim religion. They constantly worried about their safety and wondered who would be the next one to be displaced by the Russian government. Komila and her family were eventually resettled along the East Coast before moving to the Midwest. Komila started high school in America at the age of 18. According to Komila, the transition originally brought about much anxiety, “Understanding and adjusting to American culture was hard at first, I was much older than other students in my class” she said. 
Komila maintains a strong commitment to her culture, heritage, and language. She is intentional about ensuring that her children understand and value their Turkish background. She is married to her high school sweetheart and has three children.
Komila is a mature, natural leader and works hard to carry out the mission of Re:new. Her tenaciousness was molded from years of struggling while living in Russia. She is a talented and gifted Advanced Artisan with a positive attitude and true team spirit.
Shatha grew up in a close, loving family in Iraq. She attended college and worked as a secretary before getting married and starting a family. Shatha’s husband owned a supermarket in Bhagdad. Sadly, it was the target of several attacks. Shatha and her husband were targeted for welcoming American soldiers to shop in their store. One night a bomb went off and completely destroyed everything. Not long after that, the family was enjoying an evening on the roof of their home when a car bomb went off and critically injured her husband and six year old son, Faisal. After attempting to seek life saving medical care in Jordan, Faisal died. The family returned to Iraq to rebuild their lives. Once again they were persecuted and targeted. During this time, Shatha learned she was pregnant. Tragically, the child, Mohammed, did not survive due to complications during pregnancy. Shatha and her husband were devastated and buried another son.

Despite unthinkable tragedies and setbacks, Shatha and her family persevered. They returned to Jordan and submitted paperwork to become refugees and be resettled in another country. After waiting a short time, the family arrived in the United States. Since then, they have added another son, Hussam, to the family along with their daughter, Hawra, who is now in high school.

Shatha is loving, caring and kind. A talented Artisan, she enjoys working at Re:new and appreciates the flexibility so she can care for her family.