You want a better life for yourself and your family, but because of political upheaval and the realities of life in a refugee camp, you can't see a way to make that happen. You have no job and few rights. This is the life of a refugee.
After years of waiting and rounds of interviews, you finally get help. But you are not going home. You are going to a new country.
In this new country you do not speak the language, you do not dress the same, you do not have the same customs. There are new ways to do everything. You are happy and scared at the same time.
You must put down new roots and establish a new home.
Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas resettles refugees in the Kansas City area, offering case management, job development, English as a Second Language, and hope for those who have suffered too long. New Roots for Refugees is a program started by Catholic Charities in partnership with Cultivate Kansas City to help refugees put down those new roots, through a network of community gardens and a training farm for those interested in growing vegetables as a business.
The New Roots Training Farm builds on the strengths and experience that the refugees already possess. Farming is a familiar livelihood that offers them some measure of self-determination and self-sufficiency, healthy food for their families, extra income, and a context for settling into their new communities. Agriculture allows them to put down new roots, metaphorically and literally, and to become citizens who produce and give to their new communities.
In the New Roots Program, participants start farming with significant training and support. As their farm businesses become established and they develop more skills, they will move to greater financial and managerial independence. Eventually they are able to move onto their own piece of land and operate independently. New Roots farmers sell at local farmers' markets, through a CSA program and to various wholesale accounts.
Many refugee families find full time employment in the US, but still long to grow their own food and teach their children to do the same. In the spring of 2012, we will break ground on three new community gardens developed in cooperation with the Somali Bantu Foundation of Kansas, the Kansas Bhutanese Community, and the Chin Leadership Group. More information to come as these gardens develop!What is a Refugee?
A refugee is someone who has fled his or her country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion. The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is usually charged with responsibility for awarding legal refugee status.
The Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration oversees this program. The State Department develops application criteria, refugee admission ceilings and presents eligible cases to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for adjudication. Refugees are legal, documented residents.
Want to Help?
To support the refugee gardeners in growing food for their families or selling produce to supplement their income, donations can be made in material or monetary form.
The following new items may be donated to the New Roots for Refugees Project: shovels, hoes, hand spades, sprinklers, spray nozzles, tomato stakes or cages, utility wagons, plastic buckets, wooden crates, baskets, and brightly colored table cloths.
Checks can be made out to Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas with a memo for New Roots for Refugees.
Mail checks to:
9720 West 87th Street
Overland Park, Kansas 66212
For More Information or to Volunteer Contact:
The program has been funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Agreement No. 2010-49400-21725