Artisans4Hope helps refugees living in Idaho acquire skills, livelihoods in a tough economy
Fabric, sewing machines, and women at work crowd tables in an airy space on Idaho Street.
The banter is a mix of Nepali, Uzbek, French and slowly, more and more English, as people pass tools back and forth, hold up finished items to be admired, or consult over a pattern.
Mastoureh Tashkin, a former refugee from Afghanistan, is among the women (and a few men) who come each week to be part of Artisans4Hope. The nonprofit, volunteer-run project has three missions: helping refugees learn English, integrating them into the community, and most pressing, helping them make money.
Tashkin, a tall, elegant woman, takes the bus Downtown from home, where she and her three children live with a sponsor. She shares the plight of many in the Valley, refugee and otherwise. She can’t find a job, andhas a family to support.