As we've spent more time in our homes, closer or farther away from our loved ones, it helps to remember what home means to us. For many, our home may be a place of comfort, of safety, or at the very least familiarity. Before stay-at-home orders and business closures, home may have been a place to always return to regardless of what occurred out in the world. We could be ourselves and feel at peace and belonging once we walk through the door. While it's difficult not to take these small things for granted as we've been cooped up inside more than we'd like, our home continues to be a meaningful place of belonging and shelter, even if it slips our mind.
This year as World Refugee Day approaches, we think of the millions of families, children, women and men who are without a safe place to call home. Like you and us, refugees are mothers and daughters, sons and fathers with dreams and goals, but who are fleeing the violence of persecution, war or natural disaster. Like the resettled Burmese and Congolese women artisans in our studio, they typically spend many years surviving in makeshift refugee camps without a permanent place of peace and safety.
During June, we're donating 20% of our candle and gift proceeds to Alight to support lifesaving medical care, shelter, food relief and clean water for refugees and displaced families globally. Amid this pandemic, this is one step to help make a difference in the lives of others who are out of reach.
Every day we are honored to support women refugees resettled to the U.S. with a living wage and meaningful employment as they create a new beginning. We are continually inspired by their courage, strength and resilience after the tremendous hardships and loss they have faced in life. By taking the time to listen to refugee stories in America, we make a meaningful connection and understanding.
In honor of World Refugee Day and refugee stories, we asked each of the women artisans in our studio what home means to them as refugees in America and many were happy to share. In this time of uncertainty and challenges, we hope you also find renewed appreciation and gratitude for what home means to you.
“Home means a place where family come together and share happiness. Home is a place where I get love from my parents. Spending time with my family makes me happy being home.”
Sai Aye joined Prosperity Candle as a candle-maker in 2015, after relocating to the U.S. from a refugee camp along the Burmese-Thai border. Over the years we've had the pleasure of getting to know Sai as a skillful candle-maker and joyful person.
“Home means the place I should be comfortable to stay with my family and my friend.”
Nyota was born in a small village in the Congo, and her family was forced to flee their home when she was only 6 years old to escape escalating violence. Growing up in a refugee camp in Burundi, Nyota and her loved ones were eventually offered the opportunity to resettle to the United States. She received her very first paycheck in October 2018, helping to support her family through candle-making.
“Home to me means my happy place. It makes me feel safe, hopeful, and happy. When I think of home I think of the place where I can rest and enjoy spending most of my time with my family members.”
Born in Thailand, Moo Kho was taken to Burma (Myanmar) when she was barely four years old by her grandmother, leaving behind her mother and father. She was not to be reunited with her mother for another 15 years. It was very difficult, but by 2008 Moo Kho had reached a refugee camp in Thailand. In 2010, she joined Prosperity Candle as an apprentice candle-maker and loved everything about making candles.
“Home means a place to live in and return to. It is a shelter. I see my family and I can relax at home. I think of cooking for my family in the kitchen and cleaning my house, planting vegetables in the garden.”
Tha joined Prosperity Candle as a candle-maker in 2015 after resettling to the U.S. from a refugee camp in Thailand where she sought safety from escalating violence near her home in Burma. Living more than 10 years in the camp, Tha and her family were eventually offered the opportunity through UN and federal programs to relocate to Springfield, MA for a new beginning. Every candle she pours by hand and milestone she reaches shines a light on how far she has journeyed.
“Home is happiness area. I am relaxed at home and I watch TV and Burmese movies. That time I am happy.”
Tin Tin was forced to flee her home of Burma in 2006 with her husband and two children, seeking temporary shelter in a refugee camp in Malaysia for the next several years. In 2009 Tin Tin, her husband and children ages 7 and 9, were offered the opportunity to resettle to the United States to build a future with peace. Eventually, Tin Tin was led to our small studio of women artisans just 3 weeks ago to become a candle-maker and continue supporting her family.
Thank you for thinking of others in this challenging time, for reading and listening to refugee stories in America, and for showing compassion and showing up for others. If you'd like to read each of their full stories and send a personal message of kindness to one of our women artisans, see our Meet the Artisans page.
And if you've been thinking of what defines a home for you, we would love to hear your response as well! In the comments below, feel free to share for you what makes a home.
Comments will be approved before showing up.