Madhavi never knew her homeland of Bhutan. Her parents fled the country after enduring persecution for their language and ethnicity and spent 17 years in a refugee camp in Nepal, where thousands of families lived in bamboo huts, collecting wood and water from the surrounding forests to survive. When Madhavi was 15, a fire ravaged the camp and left 12,000 refugees homeless. She vividly remembers the shouting, the smell of smoke and the anxious moments trying to gather money and clothing before the fire reached their hut. The family spent six months in the forest with only tarps for shelter and minimal food while they gathered enough supplies to rebuild their bamboo hut.
Life in the United States as a resettled refugee has been full of challenges and fears for Madhavi, especially regarding crime in her neighborhood and learning the language, but her work with Forai has helped her adjust to her new home. Spending several hours a week with a volunteer mentor has improved Madhavi's English skills tremendously. What started out as a few hours a month making jewelry for extra diaper money has turned into a busy job for Madhavi, as she is now our Sales Coordinator as well as a Jewelry Artisan. The managerial skills she is learning have been invaluable and Madhavi hopes to leverage them to someday finish college.
Madhavi still makes time to produce many of Forai's earrings. When asked how she feels seeing someone wearing the jewelry she made, she replies "I feel good! I made that!”