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Helping Jacksonville refugees

11:35 PM, Nov 29, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Weaving is peaceful for Yay Bwe. It reminds her, just a little, of the life she left behind in Myanmar.

"They come for a better life, for freedom of religion, freedom of speech," said Dodge.

It gives them an opportunity to become self sufficient, to become US citizens.

Yay Bwe and her husband Christ lived in a refugee camp for 10 years in Thailand. That's where Lutheran Social Services volunteer Amber Dodge met hundreds of families in the same position.

"They're afraid of being killed, or having their village burned, or just sitting in a camp for years not knowing what their future will look like," said Dodge.

Lutheran Social Services is a resettlement agency here in Jacksonville that helps refugees get political asylum here.

"I don't know that a lot of people have met the families before, so it's putting a story with a face," said Dodge, "showing that they're real people coming to America just like our ancestors did."

Yay Bwe and Christ show what the program looks like when it works. Yay Bwe sells what she makes weaving, and Christ, a bible college student back home, is a mechanic.

"We've made friends, we go to church, we have made friends here, other families. And we are so blessed," said Christ.

Both are eligible for citizenship this year, and say they owe it all to the people who helped them.

"It provides for them to have a life that they deserve," Dodge said.

First Coast News

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