Beads to Empower

Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back –this holds true around the world, across the cultures – from ASU Barrett Honors Ladies to refugee women! Love as I do the run-of-the-mill teas and weddings, the best moments are however these celebrations of success!! My dear friends back in Arizona are working hard to equip women refugees with skills and resources in the process of resettling in the US.

I was introduced to this amazing project called “Beads to Empower” by a very good friend, Tan. She works on various platforms to help  refugees in the process of their reestablishment in Phoenix, Arizona and Arizona Muslim’s Women Association of Arizona (AMWA) is one of the organizations that has supported this cause consistently. This jewelry project is a microenterprise program by AMWA. The project empowers refugee women by promoting training and employability to become self-sufficient. The women are provided with jewelry making classes and supplies. Two of these ladies made this beautiful jewelry for AMWA’s event. I was fortunate to be part of the refugee life for a very short time and volunteered to photograph these beautiful pieces and later set up the booth for AMWA’s event.

JewelryJewelry1Jewelry2Jewelry3Jewelry4Jewelry5Jewelry6Jewelry8A lot of work goes into these projects. We are not talking about and hobbies turning into “dream-come-true” businesses here or convenient entrepreneurship resulting from passions for art and crafts that are enjoyed at our leisure times; we are talking about serious work, commitment and fortitude for all the parties involved. In unfortunate circumstances of leaving home and a prosperous life, in new land and unfamiliar surroundings, motivation does not come easy. For the refugees, coming to the US is a privilege unquestionably but learning the skills, new ways in a different culture is a very overwhelming experience and at the same time necessary for their survival. On the other hand, for people who run and volunteer for these projects, the commitment is not only to devote time and resources but to constantly encourage and boost the morale of this displaced population. Consistent work of teams from these sincere agencies however continues to make difference in lives of these refugees. One such success story is that of Fatimah. AMWA has helped her open her facebook page. She has her business up and running, providing beautiful jewlery to wear and gift! Please do visit her page and support her.

Jewelry9Jewelry7A word about AMWA: The platform of AMWA was built in 1997 with commitment to improve lives of disadvantaged women from all ethnic and religious backgrounds. To date, the organization has played an instrumental role in enabling women in vulnerable situations to carry not only their own burden but also their families’. For refugee women, other than Beads to Empower, they have started programs like Sew for Success and Balloon Twisting and Face Painting. All this and much more is done to for the betterment and positive change in the lives of women in need. If you are interested in knowing more about AMWA, volunteering or just getting inspired, visit their website to see the awesome work they are busy in.


7 thoughts on “Beads to Empower

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  1. Riffat – thank you for such a beautiful blog. Absolutely LOVE all the pics that depict all the jewelry so beautifully. When we started Beads to Empower at AMWA, all our inspiration came from the Tuscon Gem show where Asna and I spent a whole day just shopping for beads and tools to start these refugee ladies off with their business. From Tan, Nausheen, Asna, Sadaf (for beautiful photography), Bonita, you, and so many awesome women to the women who decided to take it to the next level and make it their passion…it truly took a village of us women to elevate more women. Thank you for highlighting AMWA and I too miss all my wonderful friends including you 🙂


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