Piloting TWB in the Refugee Community

Since I was young, I have been both passionate and curious about the process of adapting cultural experiences into new environments. This doesn’t always necessitate transcontinental travel – sometimes our most profound cross-cultural experiences happen in the migration between neighborhoods, schools, churches and from varying social, familial, food, educational, and work experiences.

TWB’s organization in Rwanda incorporates cross-cultural engagement daily as our team partners with Rwandans to ensure sound production, sales, and growth.

Since October, TWB has worked closely with the African Community Center in Denver as we have begun to expand our programming to the U.S. We are currently piloting a training program with seven refugee women to better understand how our work is both relevant and needed in the context of the U.S.

Per a state-issued report on foreign born residents, 2,199 refugees were resettled in Colorado in 2013, mostly from East Asian countries.[1] Currently, Over 1/6 of Denver’s population is considered either refugee or immigrant. In response to a growing need, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) launched operations in Denver to help provide resettlement and integration services for new individuals to the United States – especially those coming from crisis.

Currently, with ACC, our training has been tailored for refugee-specific participants. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a refugee is a person, “who has left her country of origin and is unable to or unwilling to return” for a fear of persecution. ACC has focused on this population as international conflict has grown across the world in the past decade and as more refugees have fled to safety in the U.S.

While ACC can aid in the services necessary for community establishment (housing, cultural orientation, school enrollment, etc.), the resettlement agency also looks to partner with other non-governmental organizations to assist with additional employment, education, and resource-based support for new community members.

TWB is enthusiastic and ready to fill this demand for partnership; our hope is that new TWB programming can help in this process, providing additional educational, training and work-readiness opportunities for refugees in Colorado, especially women.

In our pilot program, TWB trains a small women’s group for two hours each week. Recipe reading, budgeting, practical baking skills, nutrition education, and tips for grocery shopping in the U.S. are some topics we included in this pilot program. One of our participants recently noted that her class with TWB has been her “favorite” since taking part in ACC programming. Additionally, we have had the opportunity to introduce participants to our dry bread mix products as a potential future market opportunity for income generation.

Our class has included women from Burma, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Our pilot will end this month, but TWB & ACC will be continuing discussions about an on-going partnership with a larger, broader, and bolder vision of empowering women from an array of cultural backgrounds. If you are interested in learning more about our work in Denver, follow our social media networks. You can contribute to our work by visiting our donation page at www.womensbakery.com/donate.

[1]https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/643/documents/CommunitySupport/ImmRef_Assessment.pdf