We have a saint among us. Her name is Charlene Nash. Read about her work helping farmers in Africa here. After a recent trip to Madagascar, Charlene will be assisting Father Peter Kanyi build out the community garden of NEEMA, the Kiswahili name for grace. NEEMA promotes self-sufficiency for refugee and immigrant individuals and families by providing advocacy, support and education in the Chattanooga area. The community garden on Main St is in need of building materials to make it more productive and a more comfortable gathering place, while still remaining mobile if it needed to move, for the immigrant farmers growing foods familiar to them in their home country.

This $3,000 grant benefits all refugees who garden at NEEMA as well as those in the neighborhood with beds of their own. With all the services NEEMA provides (culture counseling, housing, medical care, pastoral care, transportation, translation, ESL classes, etc), the garden just adds another human, friendly dimension to an already confusing transition for many refugees/immigrants. Growing familiar foods as well as the non judgmental, social interaction in a garden cannot be reproduced anywhere else. Making sure these people who are new to our area can make a successful transition and become contributing members of the community will benefit Chattanooga as a whole.