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 twelve 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 has been at Re:new since 2009 when she enrolled in Re:new's first sewing class. She is known for her quality 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.
Level III Artisans
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 Russia but faced harassment and persecution upon their arrival. 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 and also takes great pride in her family, with two grown children and four grandchildren who live close by.
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 a safe community and invited the rest of the family to join them.
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”.
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 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.
Level II Artisans
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.
Despite unthinkable tragedies and setbacks, Shatha and her family persevered. They traveled 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.
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.
Level I Artisans
Siham grew up in Iraq and lived in Baghdad for many years. Six years ago, her son resettled in the U.S. in search of a better life, a safer environment, and employment. Two years ago, along with her daughter and husband, Siham joined her son in the Chicago area. She is a gifted seamstress and has been sewing for many years. In addition to sewing, she enjoys spending time with her family and making friends at Re:new. “I love Re:new because I am very happy when I am sewing. The people and the teachers here are very kind too.”
Ngwa is originally from Myanmar. For several years, she and her family were refugees in Malaysia. She has lived in the U.S. since 2014 and has three children. She loves spending time with her family and church community.
She came to Re:new after her daughter’s music teacher told her about opportunities for refugee women to learn to sew. She began coming to sewing classes on Friday mornings and quickly learned the art of sewing. Ngwa said, “I love Re:new because I am very happy working here. Before I did not know how to sew but now I do. I am very happy.” We are so happy, too. Ngwa is a wonderful addition to the Re:new family and the Artisan team.
Rajaa grew up in Iraq, but she and her family moved to Lebanon when she was seventeen. While in Lebanon, she met her husband who was in search of a better life and a new job. He set his sights on resettling in the U.S.
In 2010, they moved to the United States and are now busy raising their two daughters. Rajaa enjoys spending time with her family and enjoys sewing, cooking, and learning English. We are grateful for the joy and talent she brings to the Re:new family and the Artisan team.