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New Starts, New Beginnings: The Refugee Garden

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While we work on the site, we will be reposting posts and content from our previous RIS blogs. This first post is from the Columbia Refugee Garden Blog, which tracked the beginning and growth of our community garden. This post, the blog’s first, was from September 28, 2009 and introduced the fledgling project. Read it below or at the original site.


a plot of grassWelcome to the Columbia Refugee Garden blog!

“What is the Columbia Refugee Garden?” It is a community garden that is designed to help Burmese refugee women climb out of poverty by doing something that is already familiar to them.

Imagine fleeing your home and your livelihood for your and your family’s safety, knowing you might never return, then flying to a town you’ve never heard of in a state you’ve never heard of in a country you only know about from newspaper clippings. Now you are here in that town. Everything you’ve known is behind you, and very little that you know is in front of you. This is the situation for many of our refugees, especially the women. Many of these women have too many obstacles to employment to overcome. They are also responsible for childcare while their husbands are working. Thus, they pass most of their days in Columbia without ever leaving their apartment complex.

The Columbia Refugee Garden was created to change this.

This garden will bring a little bit of what they know (farming) to them, right here in our city. It will help the Burmese women to leave the confines of their apartments and engage in our community, all while keeping their own traditions and cultures alive. Not only will those be alive, but also they will be shared with all of us though affordable and healthy vegetables and fruits.

While our economy is down, these women will find a way to use their skills and lift their families out of poverty.

Soon we will begin preparing the soil, and the exciting journey will begin! Be sure to check out the other pages on the blog to get a better idea of who we are, what the garden is, and how you can help.

A special thanks to Don, Steve, Debbie and Broadway Christian Church for the land and support; Bill from MU Extension for your resources, knowledge and contacts; Mike the Intern for your skills; Mary Kate for the first pictures; and everyone else who has taken an interest and made the refugees’ vision their vision.

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