Seattle nonprofit creates a welcoming global community by investing in refugee women


Since 2017, Refugee Artisan Initiative has envisioned creating a welcoming global community that values and invests in refugee and immigrant women as they achieve healthy, stable, and fulfilling lives in the PNW and beyond.

Once in a while, there is a person who stands out from the crowd. Someone who by their own perseverance and dedication makes the world a little brighter.

I recently met someone like this, Ming-Ming Tung-Edelman. She is the founder of a small non-profit since 2017 called Refugee Artisan Initiative (RAI), located in the Lake City area of Seattle.

The storefront is simple and nondescript, in fact, as I walked up the street I almost passed by it. But the work being done inside is anything but mundane.(Image: Richard Schmitz)

As I pushed the door open, Tung-Edelman came over to warmly greet me.. While she’s now both the RAI founder and a pharmacist, she didn’t always have these titles. Tung-Edelman came to the United States 33 years ago as an immigrant from Taiwan. She worked hard for an education and began a meaningful career, but she desired to do more to help other immigrant women, like herself, become self-sufficient and financially independent. In short, she wanted to give back.

Growing up in Taiwan, she watched her grandmother sew all their clothing and witnessed firsthand the skill and talent of this universal trade. Today, she works with artisan women who have relocated here in the Pacific Northwest from all points around the globe. The Initiative currently employs eight women from several different countries; Vietnam, Bali, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Myanmar. All fleeing political unrest and war, all searching for a better way of life, and all possessing one common language; the skill of sewing.Ming-Ming.(Image: Richard Schmitz)

RAI’s mission is to partner with these women fostering, “an inclusive, prosperous transition to the U.S. through artisan skills training in small batch manufacturing.”

Shop at RAI…

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