The world over, people escaping war or economic crises are always in a vulnerable spot. Without much protection and often on the receiving end of hostility and xenophobia, many refugees aren’t able to tell their own story. One Minnesota startup called Embracelets is raising awareness of the tragic plights of these people with a handy idea.
Started by 22-year-old Mohamed Malim, the Minnesota company uses life jackets worn by refugees and turns them into wristbands to try and tell the story, or at least spread awareness, of the many migrants suffering because they have to escape their homelands.
“By purchasing this bracelet, you are showing your support for the millions of refugees around the world that are currently looking for shelter or protection from danger or distress,” the startup’s website read. “The Embracelet is produced in the sustainable atelier, Dream Factory, by refugees who are reintegrating into the labor market.”
Malim himself is a refugee from Somalia and he said his mission with his project is to give U.S. buyers a new perspective on an everyday reality of foreign affairs.
“I’ve always wanted to create something, and obviously these life jackets are very unique — when the refugees wear these life jackets, that’s the only thing they have,” Malim told Business Insider. “There’s always a better opportunity and a better world out there, and that’s why we create these.”
After coming to the U.S. at the age of four with his fleeing family, according to a report from ThisIsInsider.com, Malim excelled at school and eventually graduated from the prestigious University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.
The Embracelets sell for $40 and Malim said he has already sold nearly 500 of them.
“We are forced to leave home; it’s not a choice to leave. Coming from a war-torn country and coming to a new country is very difficult,” he said, according to ThisIsInsider. “I always tell my fellow Americans, ‘Hey, get to know other people, that’s how you break xenophobia in the country. That’s how you spread love and build empathy.'”
Malim has also partnered with a European nonprofit that helps send volunteers to refugee camps and other places where refugees stay and he said he hopes political leaders will start wearing the bracelets to accelerate awareness on the topic.