Teaching Life Lessons in a Garden

Teaching Life Lessons in a Garden

So many lessons about life can be taught in a garden.   That was exactly our vision for the second year of the Migros Aid garden.     The garden has been a real success despite all of the ways Covid-19 has been a challenge to all of us.

“Working in the garden this summer has helped us to communicate together and learn about the Bible.”  says 17-year-old Severin Zaoro, a refugee from Cameroon.

Severin is one of six young people who immigrated to America as refugees in recent years and have been involved in Migros Aid.  These students have worked in the Migros Aid garden over the summer on the west side of Indianapolis, giving two hours per week to care for the garden.      The students are paid a small stipend for their summer job, working in pairs.  The students were connected with an adult mentor who usually picked them up and provided encouragement, friendship, and teaching moments to the students each week.

Tina Swarens, a mentor to one of the girl’s groups, says, “I enjoyed getting to know the girls, seeing their enthusiasm to have a job and learning to garden.  I’m grateful God brought us together.”

The community garden is located at the Westside Episcipocal Community Center where Migros Aid is one of the ministry partners using the facility.

Migros Aid board member, Tom Langerbartels, gave leadership to the garden and says,  “The commitment of the volunteers and the regular participation of the immigrant students have been very encouraging.  The relationships built while working in the garden have led to cultural, spiritual, ethical, and political discussions.  It has really been a joy to watch how God is growing fruit in these young people as they work to grow fruit in the garden.”

Fifteen-year-old, Samacheya Tamang,  says, “I have learned that doing the garden is really good. It also reminds me of my home country and plus I like doing watering so the garden can have more watered and gives them the energy to grow.”

We plan to do three things with the vegetables that grow this year:   Distribute them to the refugee community,  sell vegetables to anyone for our back to school fund, and give to the Storehouse food pantry.

Please contact us if you want to host a Migros Vegetable Stand in your community and help support the work of Migros Aid.

The other students who participated were Ajulu Ojulu,  Pierre Kaskile, Anita Mawazo, and Naomi Salama.

Jan Woodall,  Nick Myers, and Lydia Crain were also adult helpers and mentors to the students.

Summer Camping Trips for Young Refugees

Summer Camping Trips for Young Refugees

The chance to drive for an hour away from the city is a big deal for many young immigrants.      This summer we have been able to take students on camping and hiking trips where stories are told and memories are created that will be remembered for a lifetime.   For many of these young people, it is their first experience of camping in America.

Please click hereto help support more trips like these

Diapers provided to the Community

Diapers provided to the Community

Diapers can be a challenge to obtain for low income families because they cannot be obtained through SNAP (food stamps) or WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children).    

During Covid-19, many refugees have lost work and have found themselves in a hard situation.   

We are grateful to the  Indiana Diaper Bank and their donation to of diapers to Migros Aid to distribute within the immigrant, refuge community.   

The Indiana Diaper Bank is an organization whose mission is to provide diapers to low-income families. We received various sizes of diapers, as well as wipes and diaper cream, and were able to distribute them to some refugee families in the community.

‘Migros Mentors’ Seek Creative Ways to Connect with Refugees to Practice English during COVID-19

‘Migros Mentors’ Seek Creative Ways to Connect with Refugees to Practice English during COVID-19

Due to Covid-19 this year, it has left most of us feeling isolated and unable to have human connection.    Despite this reality, a few Migros Mentors have been able to stay connected with refugees they assist in learning English.    For most refugees,  the feeling of isolation and loneliness is a reality for many, many years.    There are so many new things to learn and figure out when moving to a new country. 

One of our goals is to connect “Migros Mentors” to refugee families to encourage them and be a friend.    Please contact us if you desire to practice English with someone and most importantly, be a friend.    

Where would anyone be in life without friends?    It is easy to be a Migros Mentor. 

The only requirement is time.    

Helping Meet Food Shortage Among the Refugee and Immigrant Community

Helping Meet Food Shortage Among the Refugee and Immigrant Community

We are grateful for individuals and a couple of local churches that supply food for us to help distribute to refugees in the city of Indianapolis.       We are also grateful for the Storehouse Food Pantry that provides food boxes for emergency needs among families we serve.    We share space with the Storehouse pantry at the Westside Episcopal Community Center.

“There are always smiles for a bag of potatoes or a couple of jars of peanut butter when we come to the door,” says Joel Vestal, Migros Aid’s lead facilitator.

“I have been in countless apartments to deliver food and find the freezer empty, the refrigerator empty, and very little in the cabinets.”

Food shortage is really an issue with access, as there an abundance of food pantries and resources in the city to help people find and get supplemental food.   Even with SNAP (food stamps),  many families still face food shortages.   Food shortages are often a common struggle with immigrants, especially from Covid-19 and financial hardships.

Please make a donation here to help us with our outreach with food to the community.

Our Second Year of the Migros Aid Garden

Our Second Year of the Migros Aid Garden

For the second consecutive year, we are growing vegetables in 27 garden beds that were built in 2019.   We are going to have another 10 beds added in 2020 making a total number of 37 raised beds.    The garden will be a way to also mentor young people in a summer work program and work alongside a mentor. 

Some families have their own garden beds to tend, and what is grown in the others will be distributed to the refugee and immigrant community.  Volunteers from around the city came out to work alongside other volunteers and refugees to prepare the beds and plant the seeds. We also received a donation of 1,000 tomato plants, which was more than we can use, so some of those were given to others in the community.

Encouraging Education During Quarantine: Distributing Children’s Books and Helping with Online Learning

Encouraging Education During Quarantine:   Distributing Children’s Books and Helping with Online Learning

Volunteers are serving as tutors to help students with their online learning.  We helped set up a tablet so that she can stay connected to her teacher and complete E-learning exercises.

When one of our high school students reached out to a mentor for help with a math assignment, he was able to connect her to a math teacher who could help her.

Over 400 Children’s books were donated to Migros Aid to distribute into the community.  The children have been happy to receive books that are being distributed, as they do not have many in their homes.     We share with students,   “Leaders are readers!” 

Coronavirus Prevention Kits for Immigrants: Helping Prevent the Spread of the Virus

Coronavirus Prevention Kits for Immigrants:  Helping Prevent the Spread of the Virus

IMG_7997Immigrants and refugees struggle financially during economic prosperous times.   Most every family is under-employed when the economy is strong.   These simple items are not normally in the home, particularly disinfecting wipes and sanitizers

In an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,  we are distributing a.  “Prevention Kit” to refugee families.    It is a part of our Response Fund.

The cost of the “Prevention Kit” is $10.   It consists of items below, as we are able to find in stores.

  • Toilet Paper
  • Hand Sanitizer (in travel bottle)
  • Soap
  • Disinfected Wipes

Do you want to help us distribute more?

Make a tax-deductible donation here online

Click here to read how you can help from home prevent the spread of COVID-19.


Tom Langerbartels, Migros Aid Board Member, shares a Story about What Mentoring looks Like

Tom Langerbartels, Migros Aid Board Member, shares a Story about What Mentoring looks Like

By Tom Langerbartels

It was a sunny and relatively warm November day.  I was driving north on I-65 with my four young friends to get horse manure from a buddy’s farm for my compost heap.  I had hired Nuru, Isaac, Along, and Mulumba to work for me giving them a chance to get away from the city and earn a little bit of cash.  These guys are a subset of a group boys, ages 11-14, that I mentor at the Migros Aid weekly CARE Club. My goal is to get them out of their environment to teach them some of the skills they’ll need to know in order to function in American culture – work ethic, social interaction, language proficiencies etc.  Realizing I’m not exemplary at any of these things, I’m still attempting to follow Jesus’ example of discipleship – instruct as you go using metaphors generated by the current activity to highlight the kingdom of God and it’s reigning King.   Continue reading “Tom Langerbartels, Migros Aid Board Member, shares a Story about What Mentoring looks Like”

Coronavirus Response: 4 Practical Ideas to Help From Home

Coronavirus Response:  4 Practical Ideas to Help From Home

This season requires both wisdom and compassion as we lookout for the most vulnerable among us.   It is time to be both cautious and courageous.      As we continue to serve the immigrant refugee community, we wanted to give some practical ideas on how you and your family can help in both preventing the spread of COVID-19 and helping families economically.

1.) Make Hand sanitizer at home –   click here to learn how.    As you make it, please purchase small travel size plastic bottles and fill up as many as possible for our Coronavirus Prevention Kits

2.) Make facemasks at home:   Watch this video.   Good article here on this

3.) Have a work project you need help with?      We have established Glocal Services LLC as a way to mentor refugee teens and provide income to families.    Please contact us for more information.   You can phone 317-771-6013

4.) Start a Fundraiser for the Migros Aid Response Fund  –  Facebook is a good platform.   All you need to do is go to the Migros Aid Facebook page and click on start a fundraiser and then share it with your friends.

5.). Help us assemble a Coronavirus Prevention Kit for $10.    We are assembling a prevention kit at a cost of about $10 per kit.   The following items are in each kit

  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Soap
  • Disinfected wipes
  • Toilet paper