Staff Profile: Bawi Ming
In 2000, Bawi Ming fled persecution in Burma and sought protection as an asylee in Maryland. His first few years were a blur of long hours working at first and second jobs and struggling to learn English. By 2003, he had gained enough stability to support the first of his relatives resettling in the U.S. It was at that time that Bawi began making weekly trips to the IRC in Baltimore to meet with his relative’s caseworker. It was through his relative’s experience that Bawi learned about the IRC. “IRC is a totally different organization because IRC brings so much happiness, love and care to the people who desperately need it. That’s what impressed me about IRC,” says Bawi.
Over the years, as more than 10 family and other members of his home community made their way to Maryland, Bawi was continually called upon to help the newly arrived--- his phone number became community knowledge. Bawi was the community’s champion: he helped enroll their children in school, took them to their Dept. of Social Services appointments, and found them jobs. In fact, Bawi was so successful working with employers that the human resources director of a sports apparel manufacturer in Baltimore would call Bawi when they needed to find additional workers. The manufacturer would also ask Bawi to orientate the new employees and serve as a mediator with the Burmese workers.
As IRC’s newest employment specialist, Bawi is using these skills to help the next generation of refugees find their first jobs. Bawi is involved in every aspect of finding employment, including preparing refugees for work, job identification and placement, and follow-up with employees and employers. He explains his involvement this way, “I know what kind of obstacle they face. They had to give up their professions and the childhood they had. It would be selfish to ignore them when I have a little chance to help. It decided it was my turn.”
Bawi points to an IRC poster that reads: If you think escaping the rat race is hard, try escaping a war zone. He sees this as an accurate summation of the gulf in understanding and life experiences between Americans and refugees. As a community member and now IRC staff, Bawi is grateful to be able to “do the honorable thing” and change refugees’ lives by using his experience to guide them.