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New lives sprout here page 3
New nonprofit hopes to empower area refugees

 Nizigiyimana Danifodi transfers a tomato seedling into the dirt of Munira Marlowe's Spotsylvania County garden.
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Date published: 7/12/2009

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He is "more than happy" to once again stick his hands into borrowed dirt in his new home.

On a recent afternoon, Jackson took out a measuring tape to make sure the tomatoes were spaced correctly.

"Oh, he's such a professional," his children teased, using a new English word.

Jackson's mahogany hands were caked with tan mud. His teenagers, however, requested gardening gloves. Their hands were blistering.

"They're so American," he complained, but his brown eyes lit up as he said it.

Jackson waited years for those children to become "so American."

REAPING REWARDS

While Jackson worked in the garden, Marlowe fixed dinner for the refugees, showing a teenage girl how to cook. Marlowe envisions the life-skills center one day boasting a kitchen where refugees can learn cooking and cleaning.

For now, everyone crams into Marlowe's kitchen to eat at least one evening each week.

Into the evening, people stopped by Marlowe's house: coaches giving her sons a ride home from practice; social workers dropping off her foster children.

Neighbors driving home waved to the refugee farmers. Marlowe said friends, neighbors and total strangers have donated gardening supplies.

"To me, I am the luckiest, that God is allowing me to serve other people," Marlowe said. "Am I making six figures? Well, yeah, I am--just in a different way."

imanimulticulturalcenter.org

Amy Flowers Umble: 540/735-1973
Email: aumble@freelancestar.com


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Munira Marlowe has big dreams for her fledgling nonprofit. She'd love to expand her garden, sponsor refugees for job training, have classes in American culture and English for speakers of other languages, host multicultural parties and offer job-search help.

For now the new nonprofit has a long list of needs, including:

15-passenger van

Computers

Drywall

Paint

Volunteers who can provide transportation and help with renovation and teaching.

For details, e-mail munira@imanimulticulturalcenter.org or call 540/308-3730.

The refugees in Fredericksburg have been determined by the U.S. government to face persecution in their home countries on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. They are allowed to live in the United States indefinitely to protect them. Refugees get their status before coming to America, while asylum seekers obtain their status after arrival. Refugees may eventually get green cards.