Aung  ·  Myanmar

Farming is Familiar

A Myanmar Refugee Grew up Farming and is Able to Continue to Learn and Farm in Her New Home

Interview by Ben Carpenter
Edited by Heather Oman
Artwork by Daphne Ogzewalla

My name is Aung. I am from Myanmar.

I have five family members. My dad died when I was about 10 years old. And then I lived with my mom, my sister and another sister and then younger brother. But my younger brother died when he was two.

When I first came to the US, I didn’t know how to feel it because I didn’t know what it was going to look like. But when we got here I felt so happy and excited to be here.

One thing I like about the United States is that they help people with low income. So I feel like we have the same values.

I had a lot of experience with farming before I came here. My parents were rice farmers, but I also learned how to plant corn and other vegetables. When I came to Kansas City and saw people growing vegetables, I felt like I wanted to do it too.

I found out about New Roots from one of my friends. She is also a farmer. At first I was nervous, because there was so much to do. But I get really excited about planning my own farm, planning out how to grow everything, and going to the market and managing my own business.

I want to grow some food from my own country. I want to grow chiles and long beans. Through this program I’ve learned how to grow plants in a close area, and how many inches away to put the plant, and which ones take a long time to grow. The soil here is much better than in Myanmar, so it’s really good for the plants. I also want to give people organic food. Organic food tastes so much better. When you compare organic food that has been grown without chemicals to food that has been grown with chemicals, the organic food always tastes better. When you eat these vegetables, you will be healthier. I like selling food at the Farmer’s Market. Buying and selling food here makes me feel healthy.

New Roots has also taught me about which insects are good for the plants and which ones are not. There is so much that is still foreign to me. Without New Roots, I wouldn’t know how to do everything.

After I finish with this program, I want to continue with farming. Maybe lease some land and do everything by myself. But I don’t want my daughter to be a farmer, because it is such hard work. I have always worked very hard.

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Our team members obtain informed consent from each individual before an interview takes place. Individuals dictate where their stories may be shared and what personal information they wish to keep private. In situations where the individual is at risk and/or wishes to remain anonymous, alias names are used and other identifying information is removed from interviews immediately after they are received by TSOS. We have also committed not to use refugee images or stories for fundraising purposes without explicit permission. Our top priority is to protect and honor the wishes of our interview subjects.

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