Refugees sell food, textiles at bazaar in north Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Refugees from countries like Ukraine, Burundi and Afghanistan gathered at the North Austin YMCA Saturday morning to sell items at a bazaar. It’s a way to help refugees earn some money by selling items from their culture.

The bazaar was put together by the Austin Y and Global Impact Initiative. Central Texas has seen more than 2,000 refugees settle around the area in the past two years, according to event organizers. Many of them leaving their career behind in their home country and trying to start a new life in the United States.

Miriam Koval and her family fled Ukraine in February 2022 at the start of Russia’s invasion. They moved from central Ukraine to Poland, Ireland and eventually Texas about seven months ago. Koval was an academic assistant to the vice president of a university in Ukraine, but she cannot get a job in her specialization in this country.

At the bazaar Saturday, she was selling hand made flower arrangements, rings and flower crowns. All the money she makes from this she says is being donated to her home country.

“This bazaar gives me and other people new opportunities for maybe a new job, because people come here and look at my things,” Koval said.

The bazaar has had great success in the past for helping refugees find steady jobs. Event organizers said the last bazaar in December helped four refugees get full-time jobs in the hospitality industry, and two refugees get contracting jobs in the restaurant industry.

Vendors also raised between $800 and $1,200 at the December event.

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