We have about 11 artisan’s involved with making the One World Artisans goods. To share a couple of the Artisan’s stories, read below to hear about the leader of One World Artisans, Balighah, who is typically the one you will meet when you make a purchase at the One World Artisans cart! We also tell Chambang’s story, an artisan who has a passion for photography.
Balighah is a single mother of two from Yemen. She came to the US in 2011, lived in CA for a year and then moved to Utica in 2012. Her cousin lives in Utica as well. Many people told her that she would have a difficult time in the US because she was a single mother saying, “You should go back to your country.”
In the beginning, she took an interpreter with her everywhere. She pushed herself to study hard to be able to communicate without an interpreter. Now, she has learned to become an interpreter. She took classes at BOCES to learn English when she came to Utica.
She is currently studying to get her GED diploma and working on attaining citizenship. One thing that she continuously reminds herself is that she wants to stand on her own two feet – and explains, “if you don’t help yourself no one is going to help you. You have to be patient, you have to have faith and you have to have goals.” She has friends from all over the world and has built a multi-cultural network, all because of the cultural diversity of Utica.
How Belighah Got Involved
Beliga met Jennifer, from MVRCR, who was looking to start a group of business women, which is how she got involved with One World Artisans.
She wants to meet new people around the community and wants to try new and different things. She see’s how learning about business can help her meet new people and could lead her to more opportunities. Starting her business is something she’s pursuing in her free time. She looks at her jewelry business as something fun where she can be creative and meet new people.
Her first time making jewelry was with Jennifer at MVRCR. Beliga loves jewelry and most of the jewelry she makes uses materials that age well over time and she emulates pieces that she loves. She takes photos and tries to emulate designs from photographs using her own techniques and learning through Youtube.
Chambang is a photographer. He is originally from Sudan or what is now South Sudan since the country split in 2011. He came to the United States in 1995 to live with relatives in Rochester, NY. Chambang moved to Utica in 2005 and attended SUNY IT where he studied sociology. He bought his first camera in Africa, but gave it away before coming to the United States. As soon as he arrived in the states Chambang began taking pictures again, starting with a small film camera and small digital camera. He eventually sent these smaller cameras to friends in Africa and bought himself a larger one. The subjects of Chambang’s photography are people. Chambang says it makes him feel good to get to know people, what they like and take photographs that make people happy.
What started as simply a love for photography and a fun pastime soon proved to be much more lucrative. As Chambang began to show people his photographs they would comment on his talent and offer to pay him for his photos. The first person to pay Chambang for his work was a member of his church who needed a photographer for her wedding. After this Chambang began recieving more requests to photograph weddings and special event. Chambang says that unlike Rochester, in Utica so many people do not know him. Chambang would like to continue to grow his craft and would like the community here to get to know him and recognize his work.
In addition to photography, Chambang works with the disabled as a Resident Counselor at Upstate Cerebral Palsy.
Check out his personal portfolio at: naathimagestudio.com