Kansas City, Kan. — Beh Paw Gaw and her family spent 10 years in a Thai refugee camp after escaping war in Burma. They left a home with plenty of space to grow mangos, coconuts, bananas and papayas for a household where the nearest neighbor was only one step away.
The U.S. government resettled Gaw, her husband, Ta Mla, and their seven children in Kansas City in 2007. Ta Mla found work at a factory in St. Joseph, Mo. Beh Paw needed a flexible job she could work while raising young children that could help pay the rent when her husband's work was unstable.
Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas began a program in 2009 that provided the flexibility Gaw needed.
New Roots for Refugees helps men and women searching for new life in the United States from Somalia, Burma, Burundi, Bhutan and Sudan by focusing on farming to help the refugees, who primarily come from agricultural backgrounds, adapt those skills to work in the United States. The program is funded through local foundations and agency funds.