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Diplomatic refugees graduate from non-profit in Emeryville

Monday, July 28, 2014
Five diplomatic refugees who came to the United States for a new start graduated from a non-profit from Emeryville on Friday.

Some of the new graduates are from other parts of the world and others are from right here in the Bay Area. Each graduate is part of a program called the Bread Project, which is designed to give low-income people basic baking knowledge and employable skills.

"That's our number one goal here, get everyone a job," Associate Program Director Valerie Afroilan said.

Afroilan says don't be fooled by the industrial kitchen; making pizza is only a fraction of what students do here. "That puts in the fundamentals of the core competency that we teach our students which include safety and sanitation, equipment knowledge, culinary math. They also how to follow directions and how to read a recipe," she said.

In his native Afghanistan, Zamir Hamnawa, worked as a program manager for the US State Department. Forced to flee his country for diplomatic reasons, he got a visa to come to Oakland. He earned his California Safe Food Handlers Card and says he's ready for what comes next. "Nothing happens overnight, so you have to be patient you have to accept the challenges and you have to work hard," he said.

The Bread Project has been working with low-income groups of every background since 2000. Recently, it partnered with another non-profit called the International Rescue Committee to include refugees.

Rafi Amini is an IRC client and has been in the Unite States for a year. He says he's living proof of the program's value to new immigrants and said it was a great experience. "So far we have had three classes graduating from the Bread Project, 95 percent of them are all employed, including myself," he said.

The next class is slated to begin the first week of August.
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