At Open Arms, we are genuinely concerned about the plight of refugee women in America.
A refugee is anyone who not only migrates from their country or region of origin for fear of persecution, but also feels they will be unable to return to that area for fear of further persecution. Simply put, refugees seek asylum because of fear they will be detained, injured, or killed if they remain in their country of origin.
Fortunately, the United States continues to welcome refugees on the run from civil unrest, warfare and religious persecution, to the tune of 166,000-plus in 2008. When they arrive, they often end up on the bottom rung of the economic ladder, ready to work, but subject to low wages, long hours and little upward mobility.
Regardless of their education level or family situation, most refugee women in America end up working long hours as housekeepers or dishwashers at local hotels or restaurants. At $7.50/hour, they typically end up trapped in an unbreakable cycle of poverty and dependency that condemns them and their children to a very grim future.
At Open Arms, we are committed to providing refugee women in America a living wage (the baseline hourly income necessary for food and shelter [including housing and incidentals such as clothing and other basic needs]) which typically runs $3-$7 above the federal minimum wage.
Combining ESL and enrichment classes on an as-needed basis with family-friendly hours, this meaningful work and living wage are intended to set these women and their families on an upward path of integration and prosperity.
Open Arms is not a charity, but a "social enterprise", a sustainable, for-profit company working to achieve a social purpose through the materials they use, the products they sell and the impact they have. As such, Open Arms measures its success against a triple bottom line that is economic (employ), ecologic (engage) and social (enjoy).