Festival Spotlight: Learning From Her Parents’ Pain, Leslie Merriman Created a Culture of Love
Imagine leaving your home to migrate to America in hopes of providing a better future for your family, but being met with resistance instead of open arms. That was what Leslie Merriman’s parents experienced when they moved to the U.S. in the 1960s, dealing with an unwelcoming community and school system.
“I grew up hearing their pain and struggles and it left a significant impression on me to not let others feel unwelcome, invisible, or less than,” said Merriman, who started Our Culture is Love in 2017 as a passion project to provide an avenue for refugees to showcase their beautiful skills and share their stories.
Starting the business solo, with support from friends and family, Merriman used social media to connect with non-profits and activists to find refugees to showcase.
“I reach out and ask who in their community does amazing work and I go from there. This has led me to connect to some of the most amazing people, they are truly unsung heroes.”
Since inception, all profits from the business have helped fund community work. Since August 2021’s fall of Kabul to the Taliban, all profits have specifically been going to help Allies left behind in Afghanistan.
“Right now, food is our biggest challenge so all profits and my own money go to buy food monthly in Kabul,” said Merriman. “We deliver it to families directly since we have them in safe houses [and] they are warned about leaving the[ir] homes, no matter what. It is life and death.”
Through Our Culture is Love, Merriman hopes to not only educate people about what is transpiring outside of the U.S., but also provide support to those impacted by atrocities happening across the world.
“We need to know about the wars and famines that are going on around the world,” said Merriman. “We have an obligation to help those fleeing for a safer life. I can’t even imagine not welcoming someone in need.”
Merriman is excited to once again participate at the One Journey Festival as “it is the best community.” 100% of profits made by Our Culture is Love will go towards helping her evacuation team support those in Kabul.
As you explore the wares and items available, Merriman wants you to “see the person who made [your] item” and “know this person is a daughter, a mother, that wants exactly what we want, safety, happiness, shelter, [and] food.”
Stop by Our Culture is Love’s booth at the One Journey Festival in our Global Marketplace to check out different products created by refugees. You can also visit the company’s website and follow them on Instagram.