Perhaps the question we are asked the most is this – how did these refugees come to Nashville? Let me explain the process. Hasta and family came from Bhutan, a place most of us cannot point to on a map. As a young man, he was forced out of his home country due to a well-founded fear of political and religious torment. He crossed the border into southeastern Nepal and was crammed into a United Nations camp.
Hasta was unsure of what his future might hold. However, he was fortunate to be chosen through U.S. Resettlement Program, which allows certain numbers of refugees each year a chance for a new start in America. That US office in D.C. has a branch affiliated resettlement agency here in Nashville, called NICE. Today, Hasta and his wife are both gainfully employed. They gave birth to their 3rd child at Vanderbilt Hospital on Easter of 2011. Welcome to America.
I, Gatluak (Gat) Thach, founder and President/CEO of Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE), had a similar journey from Sudan. When I arrived, I started with a white board and marker in a living room teaching my Sudanese refugee friends English as a Second Language (ESL). Our At home English classes turned into job placements, citizenship classes, youth development, health preventative, immigration services, and core resettlement services for refugees to make Nashville home.
NICE gives refugees and immigrants chance to embrace America at its best home. Refugees are created when things go wrong. It was due to wars and prosecutions that made refugees fled their former homes. But, we are trying to make things go right with a smooth transition from the time we pick them up from airport, getting them into a furnished apartment and into our classes.
We successfully unified 129 family members last year. You can be part of this unique story and make a global impact on a local basis. Right now we have over 250 students in ESL classes, yet the waiting list remains long. Over 100 refugees taking citizenship classes and 150 refugees have been placed in jobs within the last six months. You can help fund a student for a simple gift of $25. You can fund a classroom for $250. As our faithful partner in this work, for every dollar you mail or pay online, NICE welcomes more refugees into more classes and on their way to more job opportunities. Last year we placed 210 refugees into gainful employments.
We count on you for us to remain assisting vulnerable refugee families.
Gatluak Ter Thach