VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
The IRC in 2012: growing opportunity
December 31, 2012 by George Rupp
|Growing up in Myanmar, Ah Lun loved turning chili peppers and vegetables from his family's garden into nutritious meals. Photo: Donna Alberico/IRC|
The dignity of economic self-sufficiency is at the heart of another innovative IRC program, the New Roots farming initiative.
From San Diego to the South Bronx, New Roots is enabling hundreds of resettled refugees to grow their own healthy foods, earn income by selling their harvest to restaurants and at farmers markets, and build community with others starting new lives in America.
It is no secret that resettled refugees face daunting economic and social challenges. New Roots provides a framework to overcome some of the most serious of these.
In the shadow of the Cross-Bronx Expressway, Ah Lun is one of scores of resettled refugees cultivating vegetables and opportunity at the New Roots farm known as Drew Gardens.
During Ah Lun’s youth in Myanmar, growing vegetables and other crops was an important part of his family’s livelihood. But one day, he was captured by soldiers intent on forcing him to join the army and take up arms. On foot through the jungle and then by train, he escaped to Malaysia. Six years later, he arrived in New York City.
Today, Ah Lun’s industrious nature has made him a leader at Drew Gardens, where he helps less experienced refugee farmers coax eggplant, chili peppers, and other crops from the two-acre plot. His skills also earned him attention — and a job offer — from famed New York chef, restaurateur, and New Roots supporter David Burke.
New Roots is an extraordinary program that grows opportunity, community, good health, and economic security from the ground up. And it is an outstanding example of the enduring human renewal that our supporters’ contributions set in motion.
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