Every year thousands of refugees flee violent conflict, persecution, and natural disaster and seek a safe haven in the U.S. In response to this world crisis, the International Rescue Committee (I.R.C.), a leading humanitarian organization, helps refugees rebuild their lives and become self-reliant and productive members of their new communities.

 

Working in direct collaboration with the IRC, my project entitled Home-Made, will provide refugees who have recently arrived in America, an opportunity to reconstruct their new possessions within a creative workshop environment. Your donation is crucial– it will enable us to purchase sustainable building materials, obtain tools and equipment, lease a workshop space, and purchase audio and video documentation equipment.

Together, I will work with participating refugees to design and build the sustainable furniture they need to start a new home such as: lamps, desks, tables, chairs, dressers, bookshelves, bed frames, etc. I will provide detailed instruction in the methods and techniques needed for furniture fabrication. This will give participants a chance to learn tangible skills for future employment, while promoting the self-sufficiency necessary for their future challenges in our society. In addition, the creative design for each piece of furniture will come from the inspiration and imagination of the refugees themselves; thus generating a sense of ownership and personal empowerment.

 

Having to leave everything behind means abandoning the possessions we cherish most; the memories and meanings accumulated and embodied within these objects are lost. This can be a devastating blow to the way we envision our lives. Therefore, this project will also function as a cultural commons, a positive environment where the camaraderie that comes with building things acts as a catalyst for participants to exchange their personal stories, histories, ideas, and hopes for the future. Through our conversations and interactions an archive of photographs, videos, and artifacts will be collected, to serve both as a memory bank of our time spent working together and as a way of passing on our group experience to others.

This project draws strength from the collective vision of our country– a nation built upon the struggles and successes of people arriving from throughout the world. However, we are currently in the grips of converging economic, environmental, and social crises. New thinking, new ideas, and new sustainable approaches to how we build our future world are imperative in creating a better place for all of us. For me, this project is a way I can employ my skills as a builder and an artist to improve the lives of others. Through this compassion for the plight of others I ask for your donation.

Thank-you

-Seth Augustine

 

To learn more, please visit: https://www.hatchfund.org/project/home_made