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.
Twelve Migros students got to experience a week-long summer youth camp in Michigan in June. Eagle Church in Whitestown, IN provided camp scholarships for the Migros students and welcomed them into the church’s annual spiritual retreat for its middle and high school students. Migros Aid provided sleeping bags and spending money for the students to experience numerous recreational activities.
About 130 total students were at the youth camp. The Migros students formed new friendships and embraced many first-time experiences, such as horseback riding, archery, tubing, and a zip line, which challenged them and boosted their self confidence.
Twin sisters Mon Htaw and Mon Sorn were living as refugees in Thailand when their 7-year-old brother died from malaria because of a lack of health care. “He died in my parent’s arms,” Mon Sorn said.
They are from the Mon people, a Buddhist ethnic group, that today is scattered throughout the world and has experienced generations of oppression and injustice. There are about 1.3 million MON people around the world.
“That was the moment my father decided to get my sister, younger brother and me to America for a better future.”
The mission of Migros Aid says, “To create belonging among immigrants and refugees by facilitating transformative relationships through holistic mentoring.”
Migros Mentors serve in so many numerous ways. Some meet with a family or an individual on a regular basis. Some mentor a small group of teens in a weekly CARE group. Others help with needs as they arise, always helping find the best solution for needs. In May alone, 21 mentors gave 179 hours assisting 101 refugees in the community. Here are a few stories (but not all of them) of what Migros Mentors have been doing in recent months in 2021…