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  • Chelsea DeBaise

    I am so happy you posted and that I got to read this! I wasn't aware of the refugee population in Buffalo and the struggles that they face. However last year I conducted some interviews with several members of the Congolese refugee population in Syracuse, NY, where I am from, and it was absolutely eye-opening. I feel that there are a lot of common denominators between their on-going difficulties having to move out of a frightening situation overseas to an economically frustrating one in Central (or Western) New York. It sounds like WEDI has the right idea. There are several Syracuse start-ups and up-and-coming politicians with similar ideas right now but nothing has quite taken a definite form yet-- I hope I can be involved when it does. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kelly Torpey

    Can't wait to hear back! I'm currently a part of an initiative helping a rural Panamanian community establish a business through a cooperative involving several neighboring communities. It's inspiring how little these communities need to get a business started, and thrive!

    • Chelsea Wagner

      Kelly, thanks for sharing! I actually used to live in Panama. I'd be curios to know more about your project and what part of the country it's in.

      • Kelly Torpey

        I bet it was gorgeous! We work with a community in the rural outskirts of Panama. The Darien Region. You can learn more about the initiative here: We plan to provide the community with a more sustainable means of growth. If you feel compelled to share our story, don't hesitate!

  • George Hiley

    An ongoing challenge for the world to continue working on. Here in Australia, we have some bone-head politics that is probably doing the most damage. Fortunately, we can let the politicians continue playing in the chook pen while awesome local initiatives develop.

    A couple of our favourites include The Social Studio who are providing education and training in fashion design, the "welcome students from refugee backgrounds and new migrant communities", and a new initiative SisterWorks who "provide practical support to women refugees and asylum seekers helping them achieve economic independence as the makers of handcrafted products"

  • Cyndi Suarez

    This is great. I saw WEDI's director and one of the entrepreneurs present at this year's BALLE conference, which held in Buffalo. Inspiring!

  • Timothy Mclaughlin

    This is a subject that is often frustratiing for me. So many children end up paying the price for their parents shortcomings. Whether they have no food, clothing, or much to often a home seems to be going on and on and on in certain countries. I don't have the answer as to how to stop the cycle. If I could I would try and bring each and every kid to the USA and find them a home. But that won't solve the ongoing dilemma in their home country. For so many years it seems I could take a newspaper about world news from ten even twenty years ago and put today's date on it and you would be hard pressed to tell the difference. We as a country have tried many times in many ways to solve or help solve the ongoing problems in foreign countries. One of the big failures is the attempt to creat democracy in countries where the way of life is so intwined in religious beliefs that neither denomination would ever concider living with their counter parts being enclosed in politics. Thus the conundrum continues and the people and more importantly the children suffer. Any ideas?

  • Jessica Thompson

    Chiakto, has anyone tried to set up cooperatives where the refugees produce products that they are specially qualified for, here in the US? (Akin to a Guatemalan women's cooperative producing ethnic handbags, but here in US).

    • Chelsea Wagner

      That's precisely what I'm working on! I'll try to get another article up in the spring once I've got something going! Thanks!

  • Agoldsworth

    I am the Education Coordinator for the Catholic Charities Refugee Foster Care Program in San Jose, CA. Our adult resettlement program is extremely difficult for us since cost of living is absurd in this area and clients often end up in low-paying jobs because of language barriers. In addition, refugees are required to repay the government for the cost of the plane ticket to the U.S. Combined, these two things make resettling refugees more like an indentured servant program than helping them to start new lives. I love the work that I do, but the government desperately needs to change the core of the resettlement system.

  • Melba Nelly

    I work with ORR (office of refugee resettlement) for children that have been sold, trafficked, or displaced due to government hardships. Our agency places these children in fostercare homes to give them a chance to live a fruitful life. We are always in need of families who could nurture these children. Please visit

    • Alessandra Rizzotti

      Really great that you work specifically with children who have been displaced and trafficked. Wondering if you have any particular stories you can share as linkshares or I assume all that information is pretty private?

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    Interested to know what specific barriers you're overcoming to help refugees gain more economic independence. I LOVE the fact that WEDI is helping refugees form businesses. What a creative way to bring them empowerment.

    • Chelsea Wagner

      I'm currently working on this as my thesis project. I'm working on helping refugees build social capital and use what they're good at to overcome learned helplessness. I'll report back in the spring!