April 13, 2021
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Refugees from Burma Give Back To Community in USA

23 June 2012 – INDIANAPOLIIS, Indiana: Teens involved in a summer program designed to engage in community action research took time on June 20th to give back to their new home in Indianapolis.

A group of 20 students who are refugees from Burma and their instructors spent the day weeding and planting onion rows and spreading mulch at Indy Urban Acres Farm, a project of the Indianapolis Parks Foundation, Indiana University Health and Gleaners Food Bank.

The ‘Giving Back to Community Day’ was an opportunity for the high school students to learn about volunteerism and community service while also celebrating World Refugee Day.

“We are grateful to the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana for welcoming us to start a new life with them,” said Elaisa Vahnie, Executive Director of Burmese American Community Institute.

“We want to say thanks to the government and to the people of Indiana. One way in which we can express our gratitude is by our community and volunteer services that benefit the city and the state.”

According to Indy Urban Acres Farm Manager Tyler Gough, produce from the farm will be donated to Gleaners Food Bank who will in turn distribute to food pantries in Marion County. The harvest is expected to feed approximately 1,000 Indianapolis residents.

Several of the area high school students expressed satisfaction in having the opportunity to give back to the residents of their new home in Indianapolis.

Rem Hniang spoke to the group about how giving of their time helped not only the community but also the teens. Hniang said community service helps teens learn how to be better members of the community and to learn how to help other people in the community who are less fortunate.

‘Giving Back to Community Day’ was a joint project of the Burmese American Community Institute, City of Indianapolis Mayor’s Office and Indy Parks and Recreation.

While census estimates of refugees from Burma in Indianapolis are reported to be less than 4,000, officials at local organizations serving the Burmese community say the number is closer to 9,000 due to secondary migration.

The Burmese American Community Institute was founded in 2011 to build a thriving and self-sufficient, sustaining and integrated Burmese community in Indianapolis through advocacy, education and employment.

Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang
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