Dallas Nonprofit Arms Refugee Women From Conflict Areas With Skills to Succeed

The Vickery Trading Co. in Dallas pays refugee women to learn sewing skills, as well as English and financial literacy.

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In a bright workshop filled with colorful fabrics, workers at the Vickery Trading Co. in Dallas are busy sewing dresses.

"Sewing is what I call a 'show me' skill," said Stephanie Giddens, the founder and executive director of the Vickery Trading Co. "It doesn't require language in the beginning, so we can communicate without language and it allows them to have early success and earn money before they can even speak the language."

That's important, because the women are who work at the nonprofit are refugees from conflict areas like Myanmar, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Iraq. They fled their countries for a better life in America.

"Because my country not safe, and I think I have no future in my country," said Israa Al Shadood, a refugee from Iraq. "Here, I have too many dreams."

Al Shadood and the other refugee women are getting paid to go through Vickery Trading Co.'s 21-month program that teaches seamstress skills, English and financial literacy. Many of the refugees come from countries where they didn't, or couldn't, go to school or work.

"We are opening those doors for them," Giddens said. "So we are allowing them to increase their education level and gain a skill where they can be employed."

"I like sewing," Al Shadood said, her eyes smiling above her mask. "At America, people very kind and every time help me. Before, not have a friend, but now I have too many friends, in here and outside."

When the women complete the program they get job placement assistance for work that will help them and their families succeed in their new country.

"When you chose to help a woman and she is empowered, you can see the lights go off in her head," Giddens said. "You can see the visible change in her thinking."

Al Shadood is thinking she wants to have her own shop one day.

"Yeah. Small, not big," Al Shadood said laughing. "I think that's very good for my family, right?"

If you'd like to help support Vickery Trading Co.'s mission; you can shop online, volunteer time, or donate.

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