June 7, 2024
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We tried something new last December – maybe you remember it. We hosted our first ever Holiday Market, featuring a variety of refugee and local artisan vendors. Our parking lot was lined with makers’ tents, the air was brisk, and there were thousands of individuals filled with holiday cheer. The live music, the coffee, the pictures with Santa – all of it warmed our souls. 

Columbia showed up to support our refugee friends – it was truly a sight to behold. 

And so we decided to do another market. A warmer market. In conjunction with one of our favorite celebrations of the year: World Refugee Day.

Huh? What’s that? A few years ago, I wouldn’t have known either. The UNHCR explains that, “World Refugee Day shines a light on the rights, needs and dreams of refugees, helping to mobilize political will and resources so refugees can not only survive but also thrive.”

We love seeing our refugee friends thrive. We love empowering them to follow dreams, even though their worlds have been completely flipped upside down. Every day we witness miracles, encounter stories of resilience, and are humbled by the opportunity to know and become friends with people all over the world who have made mid-Missouri their home. Our lives, this city – we’re better for it. 

We wanted another way to bring our broader community into a sliver of our every day. A Summer Marker highlighting World Refugee Day was the perfect opportunity, the perfect mash-up. 

Check out a few of the stories that Stefanie, our Artisan Empowerment Specialist, gathered about some our friends who sold items at the Holiday Market and the impact you made by showing up and supporting them: 

  • Lu and her daughter created beautiful upcycled denim totes and aprons as well as El Salvadoran snacks for the 2023 Holiday Market. They were overjoyed to sell out of their snacks and most of their handmade items. All of the money went into their savings to provide the down payment on their car. Now Lu’s daughter has passed her driving test and the two ladies have a vehicle (previously they had to use Uber to get to work or appointments).
  • SB Woven launched her artisan endeavors at the 2023 Holiday Market. She created one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments with an Afghan twist. She cleverly enlisted her girls to sell the ornaments and they did! Her inventory was completely sold out halfway through the day. The money earned provided a supplemental income for her family and encouraged her to create other items for her Boutique sales.
  • At the 2023 Holiday Market, Fareshta sold so much of her children’s jewelry that she had to create more items to sell halfway through the event. This teenage entrepreneur is excited to save money to invest in her future and her enthusiasm has spread to the rest of her family. Her mother and two sisters have tables at our Summer Market!
  • NH Jewelry is an artisan endeavor created by a motivated young mother who wants to provide a supplemental income for her family. She has a baby at home and is not able to work outside of the home for now so City of Refuge’s markets are a wonderful opportunity for her. The Holiday Market was a successful event for her; she sold jewelry and Afghan breakfast bread. The market has inspired her to be a vendor at other markets in the community.
  • Schwe Market used the Holiday Market as a way to generate additional marketing for their Asian store on Vandiver. She sold fun Asian snacks and drinks at her booth and then offered business cards when people expressed interest. For months after the event, Schwe Market had new customers visiting the store because of the Holiday Market.

Your support of our friends makes a local and global impact. It helps buy cars. It helps people across the world as earnings get sent to family and friends who are still in the midst of life or death conflict. It empowers youth to save for college. You did that! 

In 2 short weeks, we’ll be hosting our first ever Summer Market. With 35+ vendors from all over the world, delicious food/drinks, live multi-cultural entertainment, and activities for the kids – it will be a celebration like no other in mid-MO. 

Columbia, we need you to show up again. 

June 22, 2024. 9:00am-12:00pm at 10 N. Garth Ave.

Make it a priority, even if you only have 15 minutes to stop by. Oh, and did we mention City Cuisine flavors will be making a debut even before we have our trailer? AND that our brand new City Preschool playground will be available for the kiddos to play on?

Share this Facebook Event all over the interwebs. Please help us spread the word.

We can’t wait to see you there! 

Debbie Beal

Executive Director

P.S. If you are looking for a fantastic one-time volunteer opportunity to get involved, this could be it. Check out the many ways you can help this event be a success and provide support on the ground. 


Join our mission and make a difference in the life of local refugees by being one of our 2024 Sponsors! Partner with us by June 20th to get your logo on signs in time for our Summer Market and get the most out of your 2024 Sponsorship. 


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