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
“I’ve taught hundreds of students in my career as a 7th grade reading & writing teacher. Why did this new volunteer gig feel so intimidating? Oh… there would just be the 2 of us with no set curriculum. THAT is what had me so nervous as I walked through the door my first Tuesday night for tutoring with Migros Aid.
Then it hit me – I was there to be a FRIEND! A smiling consistent face to chat with, have fun with, and maybe learn a little along the way. Ahhh…. I could be a FRIEND!
Just think about it. What do friends do? They chat while doing things they both enjoy. For Sifa, Rebecca, Daima, and I, that means we color with colored pencils, play games, read (we’ve found some great picture books!), write, and share snacks while swapping stories about siblings and school.
Being a part of the Migros Aid community is one of my favorite hours of the week where all I have to do is be a friend.”
By Martie Hoofer, a tutor at Migros Academy since the opening session. She and her husband, Steve, have 2 grown children. Martie taught at Pike Township schools for many years and remains actively involved in the school district. She worships and serves at One Fellowship Church.
The Migros Academy is our effort to empower emerging generations of immigrant and refugees in their education through one one one tutoring.
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!
C.A.R.E Club is our weekly outreach event to the community. We serve a hot, healthy meal for dinner and provide a support system for those who come. We believe growth, in all forms, comes through relationships. CARE groups meet during CARE Club for 10-15 minutes where they discuss issues related to adjusting to a new life in America and life lessons that will result in flourishing. Recently, we discussed topics like communication, eye contact, and the importance of saying “please” and “thank you”.
Some students bring homework where they can get help and the adults who come get to have an English lesson after eating.
We have several things we say often to the group like, “Respect 3 things! What are those 3 things?” “Respect yourself, others, and property!”
We also ask everyone, “Why do we have CARE Club?” The answer, “Because we care for you!”
C.A.R.E. stands for: Connect with others | Aspirations | Respect | Emotional health
Each week our conversation and small group is guided by these themes. We always start small groups with saying what we are grateful for the previous week. Contact us if you want to come and serve and be a part of C.A.R.E. club.
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
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.
As Afghan refugees have moved to Indianapolis, we have been having English classes since November 2021 on a weekly basis in the community. We are so grateful for the several volunteers who are helping. We desire to continue these small classes through 2022.
The women’s class has been meeting for two days per week and is currently taking a break. We helped some of the more advanced, educated women enroll in a local English school to get daily English classes. The class provides emotional support for these women, too.
A class for men has been meeting weekly as well who are from Afghanistan.
Want to get more involved in a hands-on way? Be educated on migration impacting central Indiana and the work of Migros Aid?
Sign up for our Migros 101 here. Anyone who wants to serve with Migros needs to go through this.
Upcoming Migros 101 dates:
View upcoming Migros 101 on our home page.
What we cover in Migros 101:
1.) A brief overview of global migration and understanding the how and why of 130k+ immigrants reside in Indianapolis 2.) The Migros Aid story – Our vision/mission/core values/goals 3.) Cross-cultural factors that are important to be aware of when engaging 4.) Discuss the ways you can serve and help and options available 5.) Steps needed to serve / volunteer with us
Younger immigrants can often find life in America challenging, even after being in America for three or four years. One of our efforts is to offer experiences for refugee teens and use the experiences to have conversation and lessons about life.
Zayd Vestal, a former Migros Aid summer intern, led a group of young guys in a rock climbing experience. It was their first time to go to a rock climbing gym.
Conversations about perseverance and goal setting were natural in the experience.
“When I got to the top i felt happy and feel like I accomplished something. This is what it is like in life.” said one participant.
If you have an experience for young immigrants, please contact us. We are always looking for new ideas