No Longer a Stranger
The world is full of strangers —not just people we don’t know, but individuals rejected by society. Wars uproot children and families, leaving them without homes, jobs, or even a country. The disabled are often ignored or treated with contempt simply because they are different.
ADRA breaks down barriers of prejudice through community training and by promoting inclusive policies. We reach out to vulnerable communities around the world, helping them gain the strength to put their lives back together. ADRA helps this vulnerable segment of society by providing emergency supplies, support, and education opportunities for refugee and internally displaced children.Donate Today
Veranda Café Unites Youth of Hpa-an
Veranda Café Unites Youth of Hpa-an
Veranda Café Unites Youth of Hpa-an
Hpa-an, the capital of the Karen (Kayin) State in southeast Myanmar historically has seen some very hard times. The lack of available work for disadvantaged youth with little skills and minimal education leads them to drugs and alcohol. ADRA Myanmar saw an opportunity to engage with these young people by establishing a café that would not only serve food, but also provide jobs, skills training and community-based activities designed for cultural exchange. This is how the Veranda Youth Community Café was born.
The café serves as a western-styled hub for youth and tourists to enjoy local and international cuisine, while giving the youth an opportunity to participate in community-building activities. A key focus of this project is to provide youth the opportunity to gain experience in customer service and food retail. Amongst the Verandah Café staff is 24 year-old refugee Nan Moe Moe Mai from Umphein Camp on the Thai-Myanmar boarder, as well as several interns looking for experience that will enhance their studies.
Basic cooking classes of classic Karen dishes native to the region, avocado juice, as well as language lessons in English and Japanese are all on offer. Organized sports activities, singing competitions and guitar lessons are also available. The future hope is to build a small library with an accompanying reading club that youth and tourists can enjoy.
The Veranda Café sees a steady increase in its clientele, even making mention on Trip Advisor as a hot spot for visiting tourists. This initiative is only a small step in the right direction. Ongoing support and development is required to build a more sustainable future for the Karen State and its people. As the primary sector of ADRA Myanmar, education is seen to be an important component of contributing to this positive change. Several projects have been established in the area that focuses on improving education not only in the capitol, but also in the outlying areas.
The Veranda Café initiative is component to the KCB III ‘Youth Mobilization and Capacity Building in South-East Phase III’ project funded and supported by ADRA Czech Republic and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.
Thirteen-year-old Samvel is an artist. He paints what he sees, and the picture becomes the scene. He paints what he imagines, and the colors and shapes blossom from the paper like lilies from a field. He has a keen eye and a sensitive spirit, and everyone agrees: Samvel is an artist.
But Samvel is also the oldest of six children in a very poor family. He has a duty to his family that cannot be supplanted by art.
By necessity, chores and work always came first, leaving little time for creativity. Even with the time he did have, his few paint supplies were old and worn with use. The sheets of paper were small and often crumpled for lack of storage space.
He still felt the immense inspiration welling in his heart, but with increasingly less time and resources to channel it. He also recognized his need for training, for someone to cultivate and direct his skill. Without the dedicated time and supplies, he could feel his talent fading.
In August of 2013, ADRA implemented a cultural center to teach cooking, knitting, and computer literacy. They also offered a course in art. Samvel enrolled in the free program and attended every class.
The access to art supplies alone was a dream come true, but the skilled art tutor providing one-on-one guidance was more than Samvel had thought possible. His creative appetite became voracious, and his talent refined and developed. With the short but focused lesson time, Samvel was able to balance both family duties and his passion for art.
The lessons inevitably ended, and Samvel could not afford to advance his skill at an art institute, but his creativity was rekindled. Though his family is still poor and his art supplies still meager, Samvel has committed to creating art as often as possible. Now his free time, rare as it is, is an opportunity to enjoy and improve his passion for art. And for that, Samvel is thankful.
Placidia holds a new pair of shoes in her hands. Her shy smile has grown, and today the 6-year-old is practically beaming as she clutches the simple, black canvas slip-ons. These are the first shoes she has ever called her own.
Placidia is the youngest of seven daughters. Her mother is a widow in one of the oldest and poorest areas in the Kigali region of Rwanda. Everything Placidia owns has likely been passed down through her sisters, and she treasures this new gift she has received.
“I am very, very happy to receive my first real shoes!” she told us. “I will wash them with water.”
Partnering with TOMS and their One for One program, ADRA distributed more than 84,000 pairs of the brand’s shoes throughout Rwanda in 2013.
Children who don’t have proper shoes miss out on a lot in life and even risk their health. If children have to walk far to get to school, not having shoes to make the journey means they miss out on getting an education. When children play outside with ill-fitting or broken shoes, they risk injury, and when they play with no shoes at all, they risk getting tetanus, hookworm, or even worse illnesses.
ADRA is a partner with TOMS as part of their One for One program. Every time someone buys a pair of the brand’s iconic shoes, the company donates a pair for someone in need. ADRA gets to deliver those shoes and put them in the hands of excited children like Placidia.
“I’m proud to be wearing real shoes,” she said. “My favorite thing is playing in break time and jumping rope with shoes.”
ADRA delivered shoes to more than 84,000 people in Rwanda this past year alone. The One for One program is worldwide, meaning ADRA delivers shoes everywhere, from Madagascar to Kyrgyzstan.
Snezana’s marriage began as something out of a fairy tale. She was young and beautiful; he was older, hardworking, and devoted. Her family disapproved of the union, but the two were in love. She gave birth to two children and stayed home to raise them. He worked even harder to provide for his family.
They were the vision of happiness.
Conflict in Bosnia soon forced the family to relocate to Kragujevac, a small city in Serbia. Snezana and her family went from having financial security to being destitute in a matter of weeks. Eventually, both Snezana and her husband managed to find jobs and slowly began to rebuild their lives.
But something had changed in her husband. Since resettling in Serbia, he was increasingly volatile, picking fights with Snezana and becoming jealous and emotionally abusive.
As the days passed, his jealousy grew, until one day he simply refused to let her or their 16-year-old daughter out of the apartment. He locked the door as she was preparing to leave for work and bullied Snezana and their daughter into the bedroom as he threatened them with an ax.
For 36 hours, the mother and daughter were hostages in their own home, but Snezana came up with a plan that sent her husband out of the house. She broke a window and escaped while he was away, so he was greeted by police when he returned.
Snezana and her daughter, along with her other child, finally found peace of mind in an ADRA safe house. Along with safety and comfort, these refuges for vulnerable women and their children provide counseling, training, and legal support.
Snezana and her children lived in the ADRA safe house for the three months it took to charge her husband, who was eventually placed in a psychiatric prison.
Snezana now has a good job at a restaurant and is able to provide for her children. She occasionally stops by the ADRA safe house to greet her friends and to thank them for helping her and her family. “We now have peace,” Snezana says. “We are living modestly and trying to forget that horrible event, but we at least have peace.”