"Min ga la ba!" a new volunteer greets the young Burmese mothers who are seated on a rug in a crowded apartment. She has prepared for this meeting by learning several greetings in the language of her new friends. All of the ladies giggle, giddy to hear this American speaking in their language. Today was the first Burmese Moms' group meeting at Stonemont Apartments. Melissa, along with her mother, Rosita, will be spending time with these young mothers each week.

 

The ladies went around the room introducing themselves and sharing the names and ages of their children. Despite speaking a different language and coming from vastly different backgrounds, common ground was still found between the Burmese ladies and the two volunteers. When asked about their needs, each woman talked about her desire to learn English and to learn to read and write. They went on to share the needs of their families, things like vacuum cleaners, microwaves, bicycles, and even dumbbells were mentioned. Melissa wrote down each item and told the ladies that she would be sharing the needs with others in her church, and that she hoped to be able to provide some of these things for them.

Rosita shared with the ladies that she would like to teach them to sew. This announcement was met with great excitement! They discussed learning to sew pillowcases, children's clothes, and even embroidery. So for now, their group time will consist of English and sewing lessons. This may not sound like much, but for these ladies the friendship is invaluable. These women stay home with small children in a city that is still largely unknown to them. They have little contact with the world outside of their apartment complex. Because of this, many of them do not progress with their English. The meetings provide a means for them to both learn English and new skills, as well as learn more about the culture in which they are now at home. These weekly meetings are something for them to anticipate each week!

“There are those whose lives affect all others around them. Quietly touching one heart, who in turn, touches another. Reaching out to ends further than they would ever know. ”

                                                                            -William Bradfield