Rochester Refugee Sewing and Repair employs refugees to make masks for Rochester and the country

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester Refugee has been providing affordable housing to refugees and their families for over a decade. Their whole mission is to give back to the community, and mobilize refugees.

“It’s important for people to know that refugee is a political distinction,” Michael Kelly is the co-founder of Rochester Refugee Sewing and Repair. “They’re the folks who are the newest, most invested in the American dream. It’s really a privilege to welcome refugees in our community.”

He also designs their products, like the plastic shield mask:

“Having a solid cloth mask over your face while you’re speaking ASL can become a barrier to really clear and effective communication,” he said.

Rochester Refugee Sewing and Repair has been in business for three years now, but they started making masks in March. Today, they employ five full time workers who make thousands of masks, for both the Rochester community, and the whole country.

One of those workers is Ahmaid Samim Rahimi.

“We have some problems in Afghanistan” Rahimi said. “The people are hungry, we don’t have peace. But also I worked with the US Embassy for seven years, after that, I got my visa.”

Before he moved to America with his wife and kids, he worked at a clothing store for 20 years. He was sewing when he was six. Now, that skill and passion is keeping him employed, and helping the country.

“I am so happy to first (have) My first job at Rochester Refugee, and to know about the work here,” he said. “I am so happy. I am so happy.”

Kelly says that they are also working on purses for a Buffalo company, as well as liquid resistant masks, and anti-microbial masks for working out when gyms reopen — and that they’re open for any kind of sewing business.

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