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Give Back NH: Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success

Mukhtar Idhow is the executive director of ORIS
Emily Quirk
Mukhtar Idhow is the executive director of ORIS

Give Back New Hampshire is a bi-weekly segment that spotlights New Hampshire nonprofit organizations. It airs every other Saturday at 9:35 during Weekend Edition.

Manchester and Concord are areas of national refugee resettlement, with people arriving from Kenya, Bhutan, Somalia and many other countries.

The Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success (ORIS) in Manchester works with farming communities in Dunbarton and Concord to provide agricultural jobs to new Americans, while supplying fresh organic produce to CSAs across southern New Hampshire.

The following audio postcard features the voices of Mukhtar Idhow executive director of ORIS, and Anthony Munene, program director for the New American Agricultural Project.

Idhow: A lot of the refugee groups used to be farmers back home and coming here felt they will need to be doing something to support their family. I came as a refugee myself 15 years ago, so I was familiar with the challenges that refugees were facing. Most of them left their own country and lived in a refugee camp for many years, including myself. So coming here was a change in life.

Some of the refugees are big household families with children, and only one household member working isn't enough to support the whole family. So we thought training them to farm will one to generate income, to support their family, but to also get more food available for their kids at home.

Anthony Munene is program director for New American Sustainable Agriculture Project
Emily Quirk
Anthony Munene is program director for New American Sustainable Agriculture Project

Munene: I was born in Kenya. I started working with this program for the last 10 years. We have seven greenhouses, which is helping us extend the season and we have each farmers has their own plot to be able to grow ethnic crop from their countries and also grow the American crops for the market.

Idhow: So this is the East Side, we are on the east side of Manchester --Spruce and Union Street. The Fresh Start Farm operate as a food hub. This is the center where the farmers, the food they grow, they bring it here. Part of the retail stores goal is to serve this neighborhood.

Our goal is to open this five days a week, and these neighborhoods are people from immigrant population. A lot of them are food stamp recipients. The more we can promote this program to get the neighborhood come here and buy locally grown food will be amazing, but also the interaction between our farmers and the neighbors communities-- the effectiveness in coming together is what we want to achieve in general.

Munene: Coming from a refugee life --whereby resources was always very limited, resources was always fighting for it because there was never enough. But over the last many years, we have tried to work that out of like we can share what we have up to a point where now we feel like now everyone can own something they can call their own.

Idhow: I'm all about helping the communities better resettle in the society. This country has been generous enough to accept us as a refugee, and what we want to do is contribute back to our society. The way to do that is people like us being available here to facilitate that process so people can be better in our community, and we've been very proud to be part of that.


HOW TO HELP: ORIS is supported by donations and volunteers. You can find more information about donating here, and about volunteering here.

Before becoming Program Director, Quirk served as NHPR's production manager. During that time she's voiced and crafted the 'sound of the station,' coordinated countless on-air fundraisers, produced segments for Give Back NH, Something Wild, New Hampshire Calling, and developed NHPR's own NHPR Music vertical with features such as Live from Studio D, and long-loved favorites like Holidays By Request.

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