Meet Khin Kyi, NICE Case Worker
Khin M. Kyi, a Case Worker at NICE, is originally from Burma. While in Burma, she attended the University of Yangoon. In 2005 Khin and her family fled to Thailand because of persecution against the Karen. After arriving in Thailand, they lived in the Mae La Refugee Camp until their resettlement in Nashville, TN as refugees.
Life in Mae La was difficult. For the two years they lived there, Khin’s family lived in a temporary shelter made of bamboo, just like the rest of the refugees in the camp. Every year they had to rebuild their own house and did not have electricity or indoor plumbing. They used candles to see after dark. Water was often not clean and caused illness in camp residents, including in Khin’s mother. In addition, there were a lot of mosquitos, but the refugees were given mosquito nets to protect against malaria. Khin and her family, much like any other refugee, could not leave the camp for any reason as they were at risk of arrest once they stepped out of the camp.
Thanks to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), camp residents had access to medical facilities, including a hospital inside the camp and a special treatment area for TB patients. NGOs also helped ensure that camp residents received an education, regardless of their age, skill level, or challenges. While in Thailand, Khin earned a two year degree in Leadership and Management (LMC).
Since Khin’s brother had previously been resettled in Nashville, she and her family were reunited with him when they arrived in Middle Tennessee in 2007. They moved into an apartment in LaVergne and recently purchased a house in Smyrna. Khin worked at Tyson Foods as an interpreter and trainer for almost two years. In 2012 Khin joined the NICE team as a Reception & Placement Case Worker. She speaks Burmese, Karen, and English.
Khin’s whole family is heavily involved at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Smyrna. She is responsible for the church’s youth Sunday School program, and she also designed and to this day leads the summer school program for the children at the church.
Khin’s family is unique for a Burmese family; her mother is Mon (Buddhist) and her father is Karen (Christian). When her older brother was two years old, Khin’s mother wanted to learn about Christianity and started reading the Bible on her own and converted to Christianity. Now the whole family is serving God by helping people at the Church and in their jobs. Khin’s husband is a refugee Case Worker with Catholic Charities.
Khin’s family has an exciting, new undertaking as the new owners of Kaw Thoo Lei Grocery at 5814 Nolensville Pike, Suite 107, Nashville, TN 37211. They had prayed to God three times a day to give the family a blessing. One day, out of the blue the old owner contacted Khin’s family and asked if they would like to take over the business, even though he didn’t know the family well and a lot of other people wanted to buy it. of Kaw Thoo Lei Grocery is the third Burmese refugee-owned business in Nashville!
It seems fitting that Khin, who has experienced and overcome so much, has dedicated her life to helping new refugees settle in their new community.