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Nejat Redie and Haween

A strong social fabric

Nejat Redie (second from left) moved to Canada from Eritrea in search of a better life. The mother of five spent nearly a decade raising her young children in a west-end neighbourhood of Toronto, but struggled when she needed to look for a job to help support her family.

Like many newcomers who face language and other cultural barriers, Nejat found it difficult to connect with her community and find employment. “I learned some embroidery skills from my mother back home,” she says. “I wanted to put those skills to work, but I didn’t know where to start.”

Nejat reached out to Haween, a community-based social enterprise supported by the generosity of donors like you. Haween offers a sewing training program to immigrant and low-income women. It also provides valuable work experience by giving participants the chance to produce items, such as T-shirts and book bags for local schools and businesses, while earning a small income. Women also receive self-employment training and learn important entrepreneurial skills, including how to connect with suppliers and start their own small businesses.

“The sewing idea came from these women. It was their vision, their energy, their strength,” says program director Farhia Warsame. “We just needed the fuel.”

Your support is that fuel.

After graduating from Haween’s sewing program, Nejat is now employed at the social enterprise. She helps to train other women, so they too can develop the skills and confidence they need to integrate into their new communities and eventually find work.

She’s even added the title of small-business owner to her resume, using the entrepreneurial skills she gained from Haween. “It’s amazing,” Nejat says. “I have my own sewing machine at home and I make a lot of authentic cultural clothing that is important in my community.”

For Nejat, it’s not only stitching together a better life for herself and her family. It’s tying a community of women to a future filled with possibility.