Migros Academy Spring Session has Begun to Offer Support for Students in their Education

Migros Academy Spring Session has Begun to Offer Support for Students in their Education

Since our beginning as an organization in 2017, we have desired to come alongside refugee students in their education. In 2022, we transitioned “Homework Club” to the Migros Academy. Our first session was in 2022. Our second session of Migros Academy launched on January 17 with renewed energy after a few weeks off for Winter Break. The tutoring team met over break to lend ideas and vision for our new year.  As a result of input, we’ve made some changes that are already bringing new life to our Tuesday evenings together!

The most signification change is that we gather in small groups now, rather than one-on-one pairings. The tutors and students gather in age-level groups with three to five students and tutors working together. Each of these age groups has its own flavor.

·       The preschool is in a self-contained room helping the youngest Academy students get a solid start on motor skills, letter and number skills, and other skills that will help them be ready for Kindergarten. Last week, they learned to sing “Old MacDonald had a Farm” and made letters from play-doh.

·       The Kindergarten-2nd graders are currently working on language skills to prepare them for standardized language testing that is coming up at school. They practice reading aloud, listen to books read aloud, and play language games with their tutors.

·       The 3rd-5th graders and 6th-8th graders begin each session with a launchpad question to practice writing and discussion skills. Last week they discussed whether they would rather take a time machine 100 years into the future or 100 years into the past. Following the launchpad discussion, they practice reading, play strategy games, listen to read-alouds, do math fact drills, and participate in a variety of cooperative activities.

The small groups have given new life to our Tuesday evenings as we see even more relationships form and grow. Every Tuesday, I’m blown away by our tutors and our students. I am convinced that no one in the Indianapolis area has more fun that we do on Tuesday evenings. If you’d like to come visit and see if I’m right, we would love to have you join us!

Read more: Migros Academy Spring Session has Begun to Offer Support for Students in their Education

Our plan is to add 5-6 more students this session, and we need more adults to make that happen! please contact us

3 Churches help Aid Refugee Families over the Holidays with Gift Baskets, Gloves/Hats, and Hygiene Kits

3 Churches help Aid Refugee Families over the Holidays with Gift Baskets, Gloves/Hats, and Hygiene Kits

We are grateful for the following churches that provided practical gifts to refugee families over the Christmas holidays. Eagle Church in Whitestown provided over 100+ gift baskets filled with a blanket, toiletries, socks, and detergent. Chapelwood Baptist in Indianapolis collected 56 pairs of gloves, 21 hats, 14 hats/glove sets to be given to people over the winter. One Fellowship Church gave  20 hygiene boxes filled with practical items for families to use.

Thank you again for this sign of generosity and partnership with us in serving the refugee community in our city.

Read more: 3 Churches help Aid Refugee Families over the Holidays with Gift Baskets, Gloves/Hats, and Hygiene Kits Please contact us if you would like your church to collect gift baskets for us to give: 3 Churches help Aid Refugee Families over the Holidays with Gift Baskets, Gloves/Hats, and Hygiene Kits

Yazmin Westin Memorial Fund Established by Family to Benefit Migros Aid, Inc.

Yazmin Westin Memorial Fund Established by Family to Benefit Migros Aid, Inc.

Yazmin Westin always empathized with the disadvantaged. So when Migros Aid was formed in 2017 she became an instrumental volunteer with the group that was using space at her church in the Speedway area of Indianapolis.

“She was always an inspiration and encouragement to me by all the ways she helped out,” said Joel Vestal, Migros Aid’s founder. 

Yazmin died in 2018 at the age of 46 after a courageous battle with cancer. Her family wants to honor her memory by creating the Yazmin Jamal Westin Memorial Fund at Migros Aid, Inc. 

The fund will be used to support the work of Migros Aid, which seeks to empower the immigrant and refugee community in Indianapolis which number upwards of 130,000.    The support will be for sustaining the numerous programs of Migros Aid like mentoring and tutoring of refugee students who struggle in their education. The Yazmin Westin Memorial Fund has been established by her family in December 2022.

Yazmin was an active member of Speedway Baptist Church. She freely donated her time, clothes and skills in cooking and childcare as a volunteer at Migros Aid in the beginning of Migros

Read more: Yazmin Westin Memorial Fund Established by Family to Benefit Migros Aid, Inc.

“Yazmin was so foundational and faithfully active in our beginnings as a new organization,” remembers Vestal. “She donated so many personal items to newly arriving families. I remember so many new volunteers that called or emailed me and told me that Yazmin had told them about us. She cooked so many meals for our weekly outreach event called English Club at the time.”

Yazmins interest in Migros Aid and in helping the local immigrant population tied back into her family history; her father Jamal Masud was born in Palestine in 1945. He struck out early to find work and help support his family, and at the age of 14 travelled by ship to Brazil.  Following work and family connections, led him to the Caribbean, where he met and married Carmen Cintron-Green in Puerto Rico and later to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Yazmin, the first of 5 children, was born in St. Croix in 1971, and in 1976 the family moved to Illinois.

She grew up in the midwest, graduating from high school as salutatorian. She received a double bachelor’s degree in Sociology and English Literature. She married her college sweetheart Eric Westin in 1995 and they had four children, which they raised in the Indianapolis metro area. 

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation towards the Yazmin Westin Memorial Fund, you can do it two different ways.

Click here to make an online donation. (Click on Yazmin Westin Memorial Fund in drop down menu)

Or Mail a donation to:

Migros Aid, Inc. P.O. Box 20086 Indianapolis IN 46220. Include a note with your gift, “For Yazmin Westin Memorial Fund”

Operation Hope: Our 2022 Year-End Campaign

Operation Hope:  Our 2022 Year-End Campaign

Operation Hope is our 2022 year-end campaign.   As 2022 comes to an end soon,  would you consider helping us meet our goal for our year-end campaign?  We have set a goal to raise $75,000 and need your help!   We are grateful for some generous gifts to help us get going in this campaign, as we are about to enter into 2023.  

Click here to see what your donation will do.

Click here to
-Make a donation and help us meet our goal
-Become a fundraiser
-View our progress in this campaign

A brief explanation about Operation Hope from Migros Aid’s founder:

I was once in a refugee camp in Africa years ago and I will never forget a conversation I had with an older man who was a refugee from Sudan.    

He said to me,  “A man can live 40 days without food, 4 days without water, and 4 minutes without air but no one can live 4 seconds without hope.”

Hope.     Sometimes we have it and in other moments we are searching for it.  Hope is about expectation or anticipating an outcome that is favorable.  We hope in power,  pursuits, and different kinds of possessions only to be left disappointed and restless.      

Read more: Operation Hope: Our 2022 Year-End Campaign



There is a kind of hope that lasts and sustains.   It is not based on feeling or emotion but on the truth of what God has promised us.   In my understanding,  lasting hope is birthed from faith and always leads to love.  (1 Cor 13:13)

In the scripture, we read about this lasting hope, “…and hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  (Romans 5:5)

Operation Hope is about enabling Migros Aid to be a conduit of hope to those in our community who have fled war, hardship, and poverty.   So many are hopeless and seeking a lasting, sustaining hope.  We offer and seek this kind of hope and want to share hope with others through our words and acts of love.   Also, I think we discover hope for ourselves when we give of ourselves to others in service. 

We tutor students to offer hope. We mentor to offer hope.   We help people learn English to offer hope.  We explain how things work in America to offer hope.  We play soccer with a teenager to offer hope. We pray with and for others to offer hope.  We serve to offer hope.   We share our lives to offer hope.   We give a donation to offer hope.  (Mt 25:40)

Would you help us offer this kind of lasting hope into 2023?  Your donation will do that. Thank you for your prayers and support. 

Hopeful Because of Jesus,

Joel Vestal
Luke 18:1

10 Reasons to Make a Donation on #givingtuesday

10 Reasons to Make a Donation on #givingtuesday

We can all look back on our lives and remember people who made positive impacts on us. At Migros Aid, we believe our work is important and allows us to enlist others to support and encourage those we serve. Thriving in life requires a community to come around and offer love, encouragement, and friendship.

Your donation on this #givingtuesday will allow us to continue to serve these ten people – and others!  

  1. Laurent, from Cameroon, is five and lives with his mom and brother. His brother has been in and out of the hospital a lot this year and numerous people from the Migros community help the family. Laurent proudly tells everyone he knows about being on High Honor Roll and involved in weekly tutoring and CARE club. 
  1. Hannah, from Syria, has been learning English with a Migros mentor, and she just passed her U.S. citizenship test with the help of a Migros mentor. 
  1. Obed has started coming to Migros Academy after hearing his siblings, Prince and Davis, talk about how much they like their tutors. He wants to work on bringing up his grades.
  1. Mahat, from Somalia, was quite a handful and it was hard to get him focused when first coming to Migros Academy. He has matured in many ways and loves playing strategy games, like Battleship, with tutors. He’s even taken a couple books home with him.
  1. Daima asked a mentor, “Have you ever been to McDonalds? Is it nice? We heard it was nice. I always wanted to go there.”  Daima, along with her 6 siblings, come for help with homework at our weekly Academy and attend CARE Club. They are soon to be treated to a meal at McDonald’s over Christmas holidays.  
  1. Mohammad will soon be sworn in as an American citizen. He has been helped by Migros mentors for the 5 years he has been in Indianapolis, after fleeing war in Syria.     
  1. Chance,a teenage girl, meets regularly with a Migros mentor for Bible study. Her mentor also assisted her in starting a new job.
  1. Sandrine is a teen girl from Africa and recently enjoyed the Winterlights Display with her mentor at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
  1. Solei is a refugee mother of four and has been in America since June. She currently works weekly with one of our cleaning crews to earn money for her family.
  1.  Emma Lar finally can come to get help with her homework at Migros Academy.  She is in Kindergarten and now joins her brothers: Eh My and Chrys Ta Pah.   

Click here to make a donation

Our 4th annual Migros Aid Community Garden: Where Relationships Grow, Disciplines Develop, and Learning Happens

Our 4th annual Migros Aid Community Garden:  Where Relationships Grow, Disciplines Develop, and Learning Happens

            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!

Read more: Our 4th annual Migros Aid Community Garden: Where Relationships Grow, Disciplines Develop, and Learning Happens

Please contact us if you want to be involved in the garden in 2023!

Watch Our New 2022 Film: Migros Aid in Indianapolis: Providing Aid, Training, Service, and Empowerment

Watch Our New 2022 Film:   Migros Aid in Indianapolis: Providing Aid, Training, Service, and Empowerment

Click below to watch! We are grateful for our new short film in 2022 and all those who helped make it! Please watch to understand our vision and mission and why we exist!

Read more: Watch Our New 2022 Film: Migros Aid in Indianapolis: Providing Aid, Training, Service, and Empowerment

Contact us to get involved. Click here to make a donation to help support our work!

Zayd Vestal Reflects on His Experience as a Summer Intern

Zayd Vestal Reflects on His Experience as a Summer Intern

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.”

Read more: Zayd Vestal Reflects on His Experience as a Summer Intern

Thanks to Zayd for his heart and desire to serve the refugee community this summer.

The Migros Academy Launches in June to Assist Refugee Students through One-On-One Tutoring

The Migros Academy Launches in June to Assist Refugee Students through One-On-One Tutoring


The Migros Academy launched on June 7 and is designed to help assist students to get ready for the upcoming school year that starts on August 1. Eleven volunteer tutors came to tutor students through the summer. All of the students that Migros Aid works within the community are behind in their education, some very significantly. Through the pandemic, most fell even more behind.

The Migros Academy is a continuation of our “Homework Club” that we have been doing for the past four years in the apartments. It is an effort to continue our efforts to empower emerging generations within the refugee community. Tutors will be matched with a student weekly to practice reading, writing, and math. Our goal is to accept kids from grades 1-8 and help them enter High School strong.

Tutors will meet weekly for about 9 weeks and then meet about 10 times during the fall and 10 times during the spring.

Please contact us if you want to serve in this capacity! We have more students who want a tutor than available tutors.

Read more: The Migros Academy Launches in June to Assist Refugee Students through One-On-One Tutoring

All tutors must fill out an application and have a background check and go through Migros 101. Make a difference in the life of a child today!

Angie Wiggins, Director of the Migros Academy, says, “Through our process, young people will realize their unlimited potential and make meaningful contributions to their families and communities. There are bright, eager students in the refugee community who have great potential for leadership and academic success. This new generation of Americans can take advantage of all the world has to offer them and can offer their own gifts and hard work to their communities when they have the necessary tools. Their untapped potential is a detriment to them and their communities! •Their parents are committed to their students doing well in school because most immigrant families value education. Most of the parents, however, are working long hours, are unfamiliar with the American education system, and have not yet become fluent in English. These factors make it difficult for them to assist their children with homework. America is richer when immigrants bring new perspectives that immigrants bring to the table. All Americans benefit when immigrants succeed.

Migros Academy: Empowering the Next Generation Through One-On-One Tutoring

Migros Academy:   Empowering the Next Generation Through One-On-One Tutoring

Our efforts to continue to empower the next generation of refugee students will now be called  Migros Academy.   It will continue our five-year track record of our weekly Homework Club and mentoring of students, since our inception in 2017.    Our goal is 25 students this next school year (2022-2023) We need your help to tutor these kids!    

Click here to contact us and get more info and work to help a student with their homework and excel!     You can make a real impact!  

Angie Wiggins joins the Migros Aid team part-time to lead, guide, and facilitate the Migros Aid Academy.  Wiggins has over  26 years of teaching experience in a variety of settings. Locally, she has taught with several homeschool co-ops and at North Central High School. 

Read more: Migros Academy: Empowering the Next Generation Through One-On-One Tutoring

Wiggins says,   “I am honored and excited to join the Migros Aid team and help grow the educational component of the ministry.  Since January 2018, my daughters and I have volunteered at Migros Aid’s Homework Club. I am thankful for what we’ve learned and experienced through Homework Club. I would love to assist students who have great potential but who may be falling through the cracks in their crowded classrooms.   God has given me many opportunities to teach English Language Learners, and I always welcome that.  My family and I live on the west side of Indianapolis.  My husband, Andy, and I have 3 daughters (Sarah Grace 17, Anna 16, and Caroline 15). We worship and serve at One Fellowship Church.  In the free time I have after parenting 3 active teenagers,  I love wandering downtown, eating at international restaurants, and hanging out in my hammock with a book.”

Migros Academy tutors will build personal relationships with students from the refugee community to foster academic confidence and a lifelong passion for learning.

How Will the Migros Academy Work?

  • Once a week tutoring sessions designed to address math and reading skills, as well as relationship building.
  • The tutoring sessions will have a specific schedule and structure to maximize the time that the student and tutor have together. 
  • We will select 25 students (grades K-8) who demonstrate an interest in academic pursuits and positive attitudes. Each student will be paired with a tutor who will make a 9-week commitment to weekly tutoring sessions over the summer.
  • All tutors will apply, complete background checks and volunteer waivers, and attend Migros 101.
  • Tutoring sessions will begin at student homes to build trust between tutors, parents, and students. If all parties are comfortable, the sessions can later take place at other locations

Wiggins reflects further,  “Through our process, young people will realize their unlimited potential and make meaningful contributions to their families and communities. • There are bright, eager students in the refugee community who have great potential for leadership and academic success. This new generation of Americans can take advantage of all the world has to offer them and can offer their own gifts and hard work to their communities when they have the necessary tools. Their untapped potential is a detriment to them and their communities! • Their parents are committed to their students doing well in school because most immigrant families value education. Most of the parents, however, are working long hours, are unfamiliar with the American education system, and have not yet become fluent in English. These factors make it difficult for them to assist their children with homework. • America is richer when immigrants bring new perspectives that immigrants bring to the table. All Americans benefit when immigrants succeed.