WBEZ | refugees http://www.wbez.org/tags/refugees Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en UN cuts Syria food aid http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-12-02/un-cuts-syria-food-aid-111176 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP183970380655.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The United Nations World Food Program has been forced to suspend food aid to Syria. Lina Sergie Attar has just returned from the Syrian border. She joins us to discuss the impact of the cuts.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-un-cuts-syria-food-aid/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-un-cuts-syria-food-aid.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-un-cuts-syria-food-aid" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: UN cuts Syria food aid" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 11:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-12-02/un-cuts-syria-food-aid-111176 Combating corruption in India http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-10-02/combating-corruption-india-110884 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP120325014328.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>India has faced an uphill battle in fighting corruption. But several months ago it passed legislation to protect whistleblowers. Public interest attorney Prashant Bhusan joins us to discuss whether the new law is having an impact.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-combating-corruption-in-india/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-combating-corruption-in-india.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-combating-corruption-in-india" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Combating corruption in India" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 10:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-10-02/combating-corruption-india-110884 ISIS' control over Turkey http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-09-25/isis-control-over-turkey-110854 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP271060793441.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Earlier this week, ISIS returned 46 hostages to Turkey, which has said it will not engage in military operations against the terrorist organization. We discuss Turkey&#39;s complicated relationship with ISIS with professor Henri Barkey.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-september-25-2014/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-september-25-2014.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-september-25-2014" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: ISIS' control over Turkey" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 10:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-09-25/isis-control-over-turkey-110854 Refugees from Syria, Iraq flood Europe http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-09-24/refugees-syria-iraq-flood-europe-110841 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP56838941181.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Syrian and Iraqi refugees are pouring into Europe to escape ongoing conflicts in their countries. We&#39;ll discuss how Europe has been handling the influx with Elizabeth Collett, director of Migration Policy Institute Europe.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-refugees-from-syria-iraq-flood-europe/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-refugees-from-syria-iraq-flood-europe.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-refugees-from-syria-iraq-flood-europe" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Refugees from Syria, Iraq flood Europe" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 11:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-09-24/refugees-syria-iraq-flood-europe-110841 Refugee youth services threatened http://www.wbez.org/news/refugee-youth-services-threatened-110656 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Refugee kids (1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>As families prepare for a new school year, some of the most vulnerable kids and parents may have to go it alone. Refugee assistance programs in Illinois are set to lose a federal grant that helps K-12 students transition to life in the U.S., and that supports critical resources for teachers and refugee parents.</p><p>&ldquo;This program will pretty much shut down as of August 14 of 2014,&rdquo; said Melineh Kano, Executive Director of RefugeeONE, a refugee resettlement agency in Chicago. The organizations youth program provides after-school tutoring and social gatherings for roughly 250 refugee children every weekday during the school year, as well as weekend, in-home tutoring for refugee children who often come to the U.S. with little to no English skill, and often below grade level.</p><p>Additionally, the program&rsquo;s case workers are critical to enrolling children in schools when families first arrive, as many refugee parents are unable to fill out the paperwork themselves, and rarely understand what type of documentation they are required to bring to register their children.</p><p>&ldquo;Many of the parents that we are serving haven&rsquo;t really had the opportunity to deal with any formal school systems,&rdquo; explained Kano. &ldquo;So they depend on us to help them and orient them.&rdquo;</p><p>But this year, Kano and those who work with other refugee assistance programs in Illinois, are fretting over whether they&rsquo;ll have money to continue supporting kids and their families through the school year. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement largely funds refugee services, and has recently warned assistance organizations that money is getting tight &mdash; because it also is responsible for the care and shelter of unaccompanied children who are caught illegally migrating to the U.S. The number of children detained since June of 2013 has surged, prompting the ORR to divert money that was earmarked for refugees to deal with the situation.</p><p>Since <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/feds-set-divert-refugee-funds-deal-unaccompanied-minors-110594">WBEZ last reported on this</a>, ORR has announced that it will restore funding to some core services. However, discretionary grants that pay for K-12 support, senior services and preventative health programs remain in jeopardy. In Illinois, youth services received $711,729 last fiscal year.</p><p>Kano said ORR money makes up about 80 percent of the budget for RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program. If that money is not renewed, she said she&rsquo;ll be left with less than one full-time employee to handle K-12 services. She said that means newly-arrived refugee families wouldn&rsquo;t receive the basic education that her organization promotes.</p><p>&ldquo;Something as simple as you have to dress your kids properly for school and you have to feed them breakfast before they go to school,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;because otherwise the teacher is going to notice that your child is not well taken care of, and they might call the Department of Child and Family Services for neglect.&rdquo;</p><p>Kano said extreme examples like that are rare, but they could happen more often without the support and intervention of RefugeeONE&rsquo;s case workers. More common are everyday household issues that refugee parents run into, often because they don&rsquo;t know how to support their kids in a new environment.<br /><br />&ldquo;I had a problem with my son,&rdquo; said Amal Khalid, a refugee who arrived from Sudan with her three children last year. &ldquo;My son (didn&rsquo;t) listen to me, and he (didn&rsquo;t) do his homework, and everything. Just he want to sit and watch TV and playing.&rdquo;</p><p>Khalid said a staff member at RefugeeONE helped by making a schedule for her 8-year old son.</p><p>&ldquo;She said you give him this routine for everything,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;When he (wakes) up, (goes) to school and he (comes) back, eat, and like one hour for writing, reading. I can&rsquo;t do that by myself.&rdquo;</p><p>Khalid said her son&rsquo;s back on track now.</p><p>RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program also provides a critical, one-stop shop for many teachers who need help reaching students&rsquo; families.</p><p>&ldquo;If something arises throughout the year, that&rsquo;s my first contact, again mostly because of the language barrier,&rdquo; said Benjamin Meier, a math teacher at Roosevelt High school. The school has kids from more than 40 language backgrounds, including Arabic, Nepali, Amharic, Tigrinya, Karen, Zomi, Swahili, Dzongkha, and more.</p><p>Meier said RefugeeONE not only helps him communicate with parents, but also teaches parents how to get involved in their children&rsquo;s education.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of the parents traditionally just defer to whatever the school says,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;We prefer more of a give-and-take.&rdquo;</p><p>Meier said RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program has been effective because it brings in families&rsquo; case workers to craft holistic approaches to children&rsquo;s success.</p><p>Kano said RefugeeONE will dip into its general funds to keep services going through September. But if federal funds aren&rsquo;t released by then, the organization is planning to discontinue its youth support in October.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 11:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/refugee-youth-services-threatened-110656 Global Activism: Somali Women Association of Illinois helping refugees http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-somali-women-association-illinois-helping-refugees-110614 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ga-nana profile_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-68f46e64-b189-5f5b-2f0a-bc3933c46009">Nana Ahmed grew up as a Somali refugee in Yemen. When she came to America, Nana wanted to give back by helping refugees like herself. She, along with seven other Chicago women, formed <a href="https://www.facebook.com/SWAI2014">Somali Women Association of Illinois</a> (SWAI). They provide education and housing assistance, job training and health access to try and help refugee women and their families settle into their new lives. Nana will share her own experience and how it&rsquo;s helped dozens of refugees.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/162151706&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 12:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-somali-women-association-illinois-helping-refugees-110614 Child migrant expert: The kids will keep coming http://www.wbez.org/news/child-migrant-expert-kids-will-keep-coming-110612 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/unaccompanied minors.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Federal officials recently announced they would close three temporary detention shelters in Oklahoma, Texas and California, in part because the flow of children across the southern U.S. border has slowed. The news comes weeks into a heated debate over what to do about large numbers of unaccompanied minors fleeing Central America.</p><p>But one Chicago expert, recently returned from studying migrant children in Guatemala, believes the slowdown won&rsquo;t last.</p><p>&ldquo;There is a culture of migration where, in many ways, it is a rite of passage that you do start to think about your household, you think about your family, you think about your future at age 13, 14, 15,&rdquo; said Lauren Heidbrink, an anthropologist and Assistant Professor at National Louis University in Chicago.</p><p>Heidbrink has authored a book on the topic, titled <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Migrant-Youth-Transnational-Families-State/dp/0812246047"><em>Migrant Youth, Transnational Families and the State: Care and Contested Interests</em></a>, and recently returned from a field study in the Departments of San Marcos and Quezaltenango in western Guatemala.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a different cultural context. There are different expectations of young people in Guatemala than we have of a 14-year old in the U.S,&rdquo; said Heidbrink.</p><p>While there, Heidbrink said she witnessed a widespread campaign to dissuade children from making the dangerous journey to the U.S.-Texas border. The U.S. Department of Customs and Border Protection has launched a <a href="http://www.dvidshub.net/unit/USCBP#.U-Kos_ldWSo">multimedia campaign</a> &mdash; which included commissioning a <a href="http://www.dvidshub.net/audio/37278/radio-psa-la-bestia-norte-full-version#.U-Kon_ldWSr">radio tune</a> modeled in the tradition of popular gangster ballads known as <em>narcorridos</em> &mdash; to emphasize the dangers of the journey to children and their families.</p><p>But in the indigenous, subsistence-farm communities where Heidbrink works, the messages are not taking root.</p><p>&ldquo;They know the risks,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But the risks of remaining outweigh the risks of migration.&rdquo;</p><p>Heidbrink said many children believe subsistence farming won&rsquo;t be enough to support their families &mdash; and that way of life has been further threatened by toxic mining activity nearby. In other parts of Guatemala and Central America, kids may face different hardships. But in most cases, Heidbrink says they decide to leave for the same reason: they see little future where they are.</p><p>&ldquo;People don&rsquo;t want to migrate,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a last resort for many people.&rdquo;</p><p>But Heidbrink said once children make the decision to leave, they&rsquo;re thrown into a vicious cycle. Those that are deported don&rsquo;t bring home the message that they shouldn&rsquo;t make the journey. On the contrary, Heidbrink said it becomes more necessary than ever for the children to try to reach the U.S. again.</p><p>&ldquo;Youth and families are being returned to the very situations that they fled, and nothing has changed,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;And in fact, layered on top of that, for many youth, is the added debt it takes to migrate.&rdquo;</p><p>Heidbrink said many families pay smugglers between $7,500 and $10,000 to get their children to the U.S. safely, with whopping monthly interest rates as high as 15 percent. Even with a college education, Heidbrink said most Guatemalans can&rsquo;t earn that kind of money. So many kids feel their only way to pay the debt is to <em>re-</em>migrate.</p><p>Heidbrink believes the U.S.&rsquo;s renewed focus on deporting migrant children faster will only make the problem worse. That&rsquo;s because the stigma of returning to their home without having successfully made it in the U.S. means they feel pressured to try again.</p><p>Additionally, Heidbrink said boys typically face ridicule for wearing different clothes, more hair gel, or listening to different music, upon being deported back to their communities. For girls, there&rsquo;s an assumption that they had to sleep their way to the U.S. &mdash; or that they were raped.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s one family that I&rsquo;m working with who let their community members know their daughter had migrated to Guatemala City to work as a domestic laborer in someone&rsquo;s home, when in fact, she had migrated to the U.S.,&rdquo; said Heidbrink. &ldquo;And when she was apprehended and removed, they met her in Guatemala City&hellip; brought her traditional clothing and told her what story to tell the community so that she could avoid that type of stigmatization in her community.&rdquo;</p><p>She said the children see the U.S. as one of their only ways out of poverty, and emphasizing the dangers of the trip isn&rsquo;t enough to deter them. Instead, she said they might give the decision more pause if they realized how difficult life in the U.S. could be when they get here.</p><p>Daniel Restrepo can attest to that.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember my couple first days, I was so happy because I was made it in the United States,&rdquo; he said. Restrepo was 17 when he made the journey from Colombia three years ago.</p><p>Unlike the children that Heidbrink studies in Guatemala, Restrepo had an easy journey to the U.S.: he came on a plane with a tourist visa.</p><p>But Restrepo said he overstayed that visa because he felt Colombia was too violent and corrupt. He never thought life in the U.S. would also be hard.</p><p>Restrepo said he jumped at the opportunity to be a dishwasher in a restaurant, because his weekly paycheck of $300 was more than he&rsquo;d make in one month in Colombia.</p><p>&ldquo;But I came again to the real world that $300 is nothing,&rdquo; he continued, &ldquo;And I started to owe money, and that&rsquo;s when started the nightmare in the United States.&rdquo;</p><p>Restrepo works two jobs now, as a cook and a valet parking attendant, at downtown Chicago restaurants. He&rsquo;s barely making it. Last week the gas was shut off at his Logan Square studio because he owes $600 in unpaid bills. Restrepo said there are still no opportunities back home, but he&rsquo;s not making much headway here, either.</p><p>Heidbrink said it&rsquo;s been left to other parties &mdash; like non-profits in Guatemala &mdash; to share stories of struggle like Restrepo&rsquo;s.</p><p>&ldquo;People don&rsquo;t talk about those experiences, don&rsquo;t talk about the challenges and poverty that exists in the U.S.,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;So there is this idealized image of what it is to be living in America and working in America.&rdquo;</p><p>Heidbrink said, rather than emphasizing the dangers of the journey, the more effective way to convince Central American children to stop migrating to the U.S. may be to tell them what happens once they get here.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef"><em>@oyousef</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud"><em>@WBEZoutloud</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 10:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/child-migrant-expert-kids-will-keep-coming-110612 Feds set to divert refugee funds to deal with unaccompanied minors http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/feds-set-divert-refugee-funds-deal-unaccompanied-minors-110594 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Refugee cuts 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Refugee assistance agencies in Illinois are steeling themselves for dramatic cuts in federal funding, which threaten to gut core services aimed at helping newcomers adjust and integrate to life in the U.S. The money instead is slated to go toward dealing with a crisis of unaccompanied minors streaming over the southern border, overwhelming temporary shelters that the U.S. is scrambling to expand.</p><p>&ldquo;This is really an impossible situation that we&rsquo;re being put in, in which we have to rob Peter to pay Paul, so to speak, and have to choose between two vulnerable groups of people,&rdquo; said Erol Kekic, chair of the Refugee Council USA and Director of Immigration and Refugee services at Church World Service.</p><p>&ldquo;This is happening against the backdrop of this incredible upheaval that is plaguing our world at this point in time with (the) refugee crisis getting way out of hand in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Somalia, etc,&rdquo; he added, &ldquo;and (the) U.S. has to do its part to assist in this process.&rdquo;</p><p>In Illinois, resettlement agencies and refugee support organizations stand to lose a total of $2.7 million in funds from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. The agency is responsible for services rendered to refugees from their point of arrival in the U.S., to up to five years after. Refugees, unlike unaccompanied minors, are legally present in the U.S., and have already undergone rigorous background checks by the Department of Homeland Security and immigration authorities before they are admitted to the U.S. by the State Department.</p><p>Statewide, the cuts represent $1.3 million in core programming for refugees, and an additional $1.4 million in discretionary grants which fund services for K-12 children, seniors, preventative health care, and intensive case management for refugees with particularly acute need of assistance. Currently, Illinois provides these services to about 3,500 refugees, according to Deborah Covington, Vice President of Planning and Allocation for Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. That organization is Illinois&rsquo;s prime contractor for distributing and overseeing the bulk of ORR refugee funds.</p><p>Covington said programs funded by the discretionary grants will be completely eliminated. The state&rsquo;s seven refugee resettlement agencies, and two additional resettlement support organizations, will have discretion as to how to accommodate the cuts in core programming.</p><p>&ldquo;When budgetary crises happen, and we have a humanitarian crisis that&rsquo;s going on on the border, it&rsquo;s inappropriate to pit one deserving group against another,&rdquo; said Covington. &ldquo;The pie needs to be expanded, not simply rearranging the pie that&rsquo;s there.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We would pretty much be gutting our services,&rdquo; said Melineh Kano, Executive Director of RefugeeONE, which resettles the largest number of refugees in the City of Chicago. &ldquo;We have nine programs. Of the nine programs, four would totally shut down, and two programs would be drastically reduced.&rdquo;</p><p>Kano said unless Congress passes an emergency supplemental funding bill that replenishes the cuts, she will likely have to eliminate core services as soon as October 1. Slated for the chopping block would be programs for youth, seniors, intensive case management, medical case management, and English language training. In addition, she will drastically reduce regular case management services with bilingual staff and employment services. Kano anticipates she will have to cut 10 of her 33 full-time employees, and 7 of her 11 part-time employees.</p><p>&ldquo;Now, what that translates into in terms of service provision is that you have to have intensive services to help single mothers, to help individuals who perhaps don&rsquo;t have significant literacy skills, to help individuals who have been warehoused in refugee camps for several years, to be able to adjust to life in Chicago and become self-sufficient,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Kano and others said cuts would also come at a time that refugees need them more than ever. In accord with a <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/10/02/presidential-memorandum-refugee-admissions-fiscal-year-2014">Presidential Determination</a>, which announces the number of refugees that the U.S. may accept in a given fiscal year, and from which area of the world, the U.S. has increasingly been taking refugees from countries such as the Congo, Iraq, Bhutan, and starting next year, Syria.</p><p>&ldquo;These are definitely individuals who have been through war and trauma,&rdquo; said Kano, &ldquo;and without the important programs that we are here to provide for them, they would really have (a) hard time to integrate into society here and become self-sufficient.&rdquo;</p><p>Refugee advocates are hopeful that federal lawmakers will reach an agreement on a supplemental funding bill to replenish the cuts by September 30. While a proposal by President Barack Obama to provide $3.7 billion toward handling the unaccompanied minors crisis would have made the refugee services whole, neither the House nor Senate have shown an appetite for such a large allocation. In particular, funding contemplated by House GOP leaders doesn&rsquo;t appear to come close to restoring the cuts for refugee services.</p><p>&ldquo;The House leadership is interested in passing legislation that provides much less funding and is much more focused on border enforcement and limiting the President&rsquo;s authority than they are in really solving the humanitarian crisis,&rdquo; said Fred Tsao, Senior Policy Director at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re still hoping that some kind of resolution will take place,&rdquo; he added, &ldquo;but obviously the clock is running.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 17:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/feds-set-divert-refugee-funds-deal-unaccompanied-minors-110594 Refugees raise vegetables, put down roots at urban garden http://www.wbez.org/news/refugees-raise-vegetables-put-down-roots-urban-garden-110149 <p><p>On a recent afternoon in Chicago&rsquo;s Albany Park neighborhood, Linda Seyler chirped at a small crew of helpers from Nepal: &ldquo;Stay there,&rdquo; she said to a group ranging from small boys to grown men. Seyler pulled out a measuring tape as she knelt in a tarp-covered ditch. &ldquo;From here to here is two feet&hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>Seyler was helping two more refugee families measure out their new vegetable plots at the Global Garden Refugee Training Farm, located on busy Lawrence Avenue. It was a cool Sunday, but several families were there, eager to start preparing their long, skinny garden beds for spring planting.</p><p>Janet Saidi, a Congolese refugee who came to Chicago more than a year ago stood next to her family&rsquo;s plot, number 95, rattling off what she&rsquo;s grown. &ldquo;Onion, okra, beans,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;The name of this one I don&rsquo;t know. It&rsquo;s like mushroom? Yes.&rdquo;</p><p>Saidi and the other refugees who garden here all farmed in their native countries. Most hail from conflict-ridden places like Bhutan and Burma, and often don&rsquo;t know any English when they arrive. With the language barriers and the sense that their farming skills have no use in a big, American city, many battle feelings of isolation as they try to settle in.</p><p>&ldquo;Being here (in the city) they feel themselves really worthless,&rdquo; said Hasta Bhattarai, a Bhutanese refugee who now volunteers as an an interpreter for some of the gardeners. &ldquo;But once they are here (in the garden) and once they are able to produce something, that really makes them happy from inside,&rdquo; he continued, &ldquo;and they feel themselves (like) they are back home, and that gives them some kind of spiritual happiness.&ldquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Refugee-Garden-2.jpg" title="Janet Saidi, a refugee from the Congo, grows okra, onions and beans on her small plot. She said she never imagined she would grow her family’s food in the U.S., as she did in her native country. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><p>The garden began with a grant from the Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program, under the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. Seyler, at the time working for the Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly in Chicago, applied for the three-year, nonrenewable grant. In its first year, the garden had 42 families with plots.</p><p>Now in its third growing season, the garden has more than 100 vegetable beds jammed haphazardly against each other, with additional areas reserved for new commercial plots and a quarter-acre reserved for use by the Peterson Garden Project. In all, the refugees use about one acre of the 1.33 acre area. They grow bittermelon, bok choy, okra, mustard greens, and roselles -- a plant related to hibiscus. It&rsquo;s a cheap and convenient way to find the vegetables that they traditionally use for cooking, which may be less common in U.S. supermarkets.</p><p>&ldquo;This garden, it&rsquo;s really changed my life,&rdquo; said Mary Thehtoe, a Burmese refugee whose family had a large farm in her native country. Thehtoe got a plot at the garden when it began, during her first year in the U.S., in 2012.&nbsp; She said at that time she knew no English, and cried every night after she came to the U.S., until she met her refugee case worker. That was the first person she met in Chicago who spoke her language.</p><p>&ldquo;If I don&rsquo;t have garden, I always go to the appointments,&rdquo; Thehtoe said through an interpreter. &ldquo;I have a lot of appointments, like medical appointments, And I stay working at home, and just do house chores, take care of my kids, those kinds of thing. When I got the garden, all the sickness and stress, depression, go away, Because I always think about the garden.&rdquo;</p><p>Thehtoe said she comes to the garden every day.</p><p>Saidi said she never imagined that in the U.S. she would be growing her own food, as she did in the Congo. &ldquo;When I came here, I said, &lsquo;Oh my God, I don&rsquo;t know (if in) America, if they have fresh food,&rsquo;&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Yes, they are also farming, and I said &lsquo;Oh my God,&rsquo; it was exciting.&rdquo;</p><p>The garden&rsquo;s success has earned attention from the Governor&rsquo;s office, which wants to replicate it in places like Rockford, Elgin and Aurora. Meanwhile, the grant that started the garden has run out. Its organizers are planning to make the garden self-sustaining with commercial production and an expansion of the farm&rsquo;s community supported agriculture program, which allows individuals to buy &ldquo;shares&rdquo; in the garden&rsquo;s seasonal produce.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Foyousef&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHKQ6bayggMubwgs9U53FsOML-b9A">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2FWBEZoutloud&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGciFiqidUKx7xm655BDbaPU9eB3g">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p><p><em>Correction: This article incorrectly referred to the Peterson Garden Project. It has been corrected.</em></p></p> Wed, 07 May 2014 15:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/refugees-raise-vegetables-put-down-roots-urban-garden-110149 Global Activism: GirlForward continues to uplift refugee girls http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-girlforward-continues-uplift-refugee-girls-110288 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ga brett.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Blair Brettschneider, founder of <a href="http://www.girlforward.org/">GirlForward</a>, has been quite busy since first being featured on our Global Activism series. She&rsquo;s expanded her work helping refugee girls find new lives in America from just one girl from Tanzania, to scores around the world. She was also featured as a &ldquo;<a href="http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/2013.heroes/blair.brettschneider.html">CNN Hero</a>.&quot;<iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/138260504&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe><em>Blair will update us on all of the changes in her work and life and talk about GirlForward&rsquo;s upcoming event: &ldquo;Girl Jam 2014&rdquo;, Tuesday March 11, 7pm at Revolution Brewing, 2323 N. Milwaukee, Chicago</em></p></p> Thu, 06 Mar 2014 09:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-girlforward-continues-uplift-refugee-girls-110288