Praised by U.S. Government for Helping Burmese Refugees (VIDEO)

By Stephanie Parkinson

April 18, 2013 Updated Apr 18, 2013 at 6:16 PM EDT

Fort Wayne, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) - The largest population of Burmese outside of present day Myanmar is in Fort Wayne. Many came as refugees. The largest groups came in 2007 and 2008. During those two years close to 1,500 people resettled in Fort Wayne.

Today the Summit City is being praised by the U.S. Government for giving the Burmese a new home.

"This is a really positive example of refugee resettlement,” said Larry Bartlet, Director of Refugee Admissions, The U.S. Department of State, Washington D.C. "I think we have to thank the community in Fort Wayne for really being responsive, and I think we have to acknowledge refugees themselves are resilient."

Thursday, officials from Washington, DC met with local refugees to hear their stories.

"They help me processing everything, like green card and food stamps and everything, they help and I also try to learn,” said Paul Thang, refugee.

Paul Thang was one of the refugees who came to Northeast Indiana in 2007. Paul took classes to learn English and now works to help others through his church. He and so many other Burmese are happy to call Fort Wayne home.

"We were in trouble in Burma. Life is terrible. So I felt that America is like heaven,” said Abraham Thang, Burmese Immigrant.

"Bringing people from desperate situations to the safety of America is a national kind of responsibility we all have as Americans,” said Bartlet.

Shelly Pitterman works for the division of the United Nations that helps refugees across the globe. He too is excited by the progress in Fort Wayne.

"If we are able to show governments, countries of asylum where refugees go, where refugees flee to, that there are possibilities in the future then they will hopefully be more receptive to refugees,” said Shelly Pitterman, Regional Representative, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The community of Fort Wayne struggled at first in 2007 and 2008 to help the large number of Burmese refugees.

Today Fort Wayne sees a steadier stream of refugees. So far this year around 90 people have found refuge in the summit city. In total this year the city expects to see 170 new refugees.




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