Did you know we have 70+ Migros mentors? We like to imagine the breadth of our work through these amazing folks – all volunteers! These mentors meet with families and others tutor students on a weekly basis through the Migros Academy.
We love hearing the stories of how many are engaging creatively and helping our refugee friends thrive. We often say that we want to be “friendship brokers”. We connect volunteers with refugees to become friends. We all need a support system to thrive. The challenge for most refugees is that that support system can be limited due to language and culture. Refugees support system of other family and friendships are miles away in their home nations and it can be lonely. Will you consider being a mentor? We promise it might change you more than you can imagine.
A few stories from Migros Mentors…
“We were reading a book about the Amazon Rain Forest & decided to look up videos of animals that live there. It was so much fun!” Steve
“One of the children I tutor is (age appropriately) inpatient but we have been practicing patience when playing board games. Each week the improvement is noticeable and I know this skill will serve her well when she starts school.” Martina
“Sandrine helped volunteer with me and we celebrated her birthday by making candles. I took her to the Celebrate Science event to visit the booths and learn more about stem and opportunities for summer programs and internships. When I took her home her aunt (Mukeshimana) and grandmother taught me how to make fufu.” Amanda
“I have seen some students become more interactive and open to communication, including listening better.” Noel
“One of the girls in our CARE group got her driver’s license and learner’s permit. She kept studying over the summer and finally passed on the second time taking the written test. “ Tina
“Seeing Queen recognize me and our friendship each week – appreciate that growth!’ Keri
“I think mostly just watching how the kids grow as you spend time with them… not just physically but also mentally and emotionally “ Maggie
“Very rewarding seeing people eager to become citizens” Paula
“One student passes the Civics portion – a great feat given the memorization she had to do and the other student passed all portions. I have explained to my students that English is so important to become part of the community and learn more about people and cultures. “ Darby
If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden. – Robert Brault
The 4th annual Migros Aid Community Garden provided more than food this season; it also provided a setting for relationships to grow, discipline to develop, and learning to happen.
Our garden produced 989 pounds of tomatoes, cabbages, okra, peppers, cucumbers, and more spread among 36 raised beds. Throughout the summer and fall, community members and volunteers harvested food weekly and distributed it to families.
Beyond the actual vegetables it yielded, the garden did more than we could imagine. Middle school boys (who can be notoriously difficult to wrangle in the best of circumstances) spent an entire evening digging up potatoes and competing for the biggest one – each convinced that they might discover one that could break a world’s record for size. A mentor and some teenage girls had conversations about faith and the Bible over beds of vegetables. An African woman taught Americans which leaves and stems could be cooked into delicious, nutritious dishes. Young girls filled bag after bag to take home to present proudly to their mothers. Teen boys earned pocket money by weeding and caring for the garden. Conversations about culture and food were shared between volunteers and members of the refugee community as they tried to save every cherry tomato before the first frost came.
In the spring, a team sowed seeds that became sprouts, then tall plants, then vegetables. More was sown, however, than physical seeds. The garden also allowed opportunities for seeds of faith, trust, and friendship to be sown. We look forward to seeing the harvest that God produces from those seeds.
All produce was given away for free to families in the refugee community.
And now the garden rests until we begin again next year!
We had our fourth Back to School Event in the community last week with an enormous turnout from the community. We gave out 150 backpacks filled with school supplies for the upcoming school year. Food was provided by friends from Somalia, Syria, the Karen & Mon people (from Myanmar region).
We met many new families who signed up for services. The students enjoyed face painting, corn hole, soccer, and table games! Free kids books were provided to each student who wanted to begin to build their own library.
Thank you for those who came to serve! It was a phenomenal, magical evening
Zayd Vestal has completed his freshman year at North Park University in Chicago, IL. and still deciding his major. He currently is working as a summer intern this summer with Migros Aid and helping serve in numerous ways within the refugee community.
Zayd reflects on his summer internship,
“I have discovered that I have felt most at peace with the families, children, and individuals of my age who are connected with Migros Aid and from around the world. What I mean by “most at peace” is that when I spend time with these individuals, whatever the occasion is, I have never felt more comfortable and at ease. Of course, not everything is peaceful, but I can genuinely say that in my entire life, I have never felt as safe to be myself around the people in Migros Aid, even though there is a drastic cultural boundary between them and me. As I have gotten to know these individuals, almost every encounter with them is full of joy and warmth that seems rooted in their DNA. These individuals are mainly refugees from different parts of the world. They come to Indianapolis mostly on the lower-income spectrum of society, English not their primary language and most are not familiar with the customs and culture of America as a whole. Immigrants are the gentiles of modern-day America. Romans 3:29 says, “After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course, HE is! Our God is the God of all nations and cares for our neighbors and ‘the stranger.’ I have very much cherished my cross-cultural experiences with Migros because I have gained different perspectives of the world, and I believe this is what it means to be a follower of Jesus: to see and hear from people of all different backgrounds. We are all created in the image of God and have something to show of the Kingdom of God.”
Tina shares, “My husband and I have enjoyed being mentors to a brother and sister from Somalia. They and their mother have been in the U.S. since 2016. Another Migros mentor helped them obtain their green cards and get settled into the city. We came along a few years later in their journey and have enjoyed sharing our “middle class American” lives with them. Ping pong, Cracker Barrel, and seasonal decor are just a few bits of Americana that have been shared. Pictured above is me sharing my love of ice-cream cake as we celebrated the end of Farhiyo’s Ivy Tech class. The other picture is of Farhiyo sharing her talent of henna painting with me. We shared many laughs over the strange color the ink turned on my white skin! Being a mentor to a young adult has been rewarding and full of more laughs than I anticipated! “
There are other families in need and we are seeking more Migros Mentors like John and Tina.
Please contact us if you want to serve as a Migros Mentor.
Bryant shares, “I’ve been volunteering with Migros Aid for a little over a year. I’ve had the privilege of being a mentor- which means being a friend to a refugee family. I got to help my African friends get settled into a new place in Indianapolis, get registered for school & navigate some of the language barriers experienced in every day life. We spent a lot of time last summer just hanging out and sharing meals together. I even learned how to make fufu! It has been the hugest blessing. My family has a greater understanding of what it means to be a refugee in the United States. We’ve had the privilege of experiencing other cultures & truly helping the least of these. I had no idea some of the challenges they face & I’m so grateful my family and I have been able to help.”
Many refugee families move to Indianapolis after living in other parts of the United States for a short period of time. They usually move to Indianapolis because of the good job market or they know someone who lives here, as the family did in this mentoring relationship. Families like this loose all their support from other groups serving them in the initial city they were settled in. Through the work of Migros Aid, this family was able to get help and support that was greatly needed.
There are other families in need and we are seeking more Migros Mentors like Hannah.
Channel 8 news was there to tell the story how the refugee community, who themselves had fled war, want to help refugees in Ukraine. Young people in the group wrote letters that will be mailed to refugees fleeing Ukraine. Also, a total of $14 was collected, all from young people, to assist refugees in Europe. A song was shared by Nick Sahaidachny and he spoke about how his parents fled Ukraine in the 1930s.
Joseph Mosse also shared his story of being raised in Ukraine and how many of his friends are in danger.
Migros Aid has launched a UKRAINE REFUGEE FUND and our goal is to raise $50,000 to bring aid and assistance to the refugee crises that has emerged as a result of Russia’s invasion. We will be be partnering with groups in Poland and Romania where we have relationship.
James Cedric is in his sophomore year at Vincennes University, Indiana’s oldest college founded in 1801. He is studying robotics and on a track scholarship and possibly looking to continue his education and running track at Purdue Northwest in the future.
James was a recent recipient of a laptop computer through Migros Aid.
James said, “Thank you so much for this computer, as this will help me in my studies at college and follow my dreams!”
We met first James in 2016 when he moved to America from Malawi, where he and his family had lived for 15 years as refugees. He was very young when his family fled war-torn Burundi to Malawi.
We were both so happy when we met because I (Joel) got to speak Chichewa to him from traveling to Malawi many years ago. He graduated from Arsenal Tech High School and played on their soccer team. While in High School he was active in our English / CARE club and went to a camp with other students. Thank you for your gifts that allow us to empower young men like James to pursue their dreams!
We are grateful for all the individuals and local churches that assembled Welcome gift baskets for the refugee community. A gift basket came in a laundry basket and were filled with practical items like laundry detergent, gloves, hats, toiletry items, and other small gifts to encourage a family. Thank you for everyone who made this happen! The smiles were endless of this small gesture of love.