Stephanie Dolan, The Southside Times, July 11, 2019
In conjunction with World Refugee Day, members of the Burmese American Community Institute (BACI), along with more than 80 young scholars and mentors, celebrated the resilience, courage and contributions of refugees around the world by performing volunteer service at Indianapolis Parks and Recreation’s Indy Urban Acres Farm.
Over 80 young scholars and mentors joined together in the 8th annual volunteer and community service project, a signature event of BACI, designed not only to celebrate freedom and show solidarity with refugees across the globe, but also to bring the community together and to serve for the common good and for the shared community.
One-hundred percent of the products of Indy Urban Acres Farm goes to food pantries in the city that serve the needy, according to officials at the farm.
While giving back to the community, the event is also marked by an essay and poster competition which provides the opportunity for high school students to reflect on their journey as refugees and articulate how they have “overcome their biggest challenges in life,” which is the title of the essay competition this year. The first-place winner receives a scholarship of $500.
“It is wonderful to see how this event has been providing a unique opportunity for our community partners and our local youths to serve local needs by performing an act of volunteer service, while allowing them to think from a global perspective about why and how we are here and for what purpose,” said Mr. Lian Sang, Programs Director at BACI.
The World Refugee Day celebration in Indianapolis is possible through a unique partnership between the BACI and the Indianapolis Parks Foundation, which has served as a project site for the past eight years. Many organizations in Indiana have been part of this project; Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC), AmeriCorps, Coalition for Our Immigrant Neighbors (COIN) and TeenWorks participated this year.
“We are grateful for the U.S. leadership in protecting and providing new hope for millions of refugees around world, including from that of Myanmar. And it is truly incredible to see the level of support and participation by the stakeholders in the process of the successful integration of newcomers. I think this is what makes America great and exceptional,” said Mr. Elaisa Vahnie, Executive Director of BACI.
“We give special thanks to our local partners for their hospitality and for making such a great event possible every year.”