Refugees find garden sanctuary in Baltimore Uprooted by violent conflict overseas, refugees now find comfort cultivating nutritious food. The Post’s Zoeann Murphy harvests their stories at the International Rescue Committee’s “New Roots” gardens. (The Washington Post)
Lok Acharya was a farmer in Bhutan before ethnic conflict forced him to flee his homeland. Now he lives in Baltimore where he finds a sense of peace growing food in a community garden.
Hari Acharya whipping up a tasty South Asian snack called bhel puri.
Hari hands Lok his badge for the factory where they work. Lok is relieved to have a job but misses farming in his homeland.
Around 1/6 of Bhutan’s population was forced to flee in the 1990s. The majority, a little over 100,000 people, were Lhotshampas, a Nepali speaking ethnic minority.
Sancha Maya Rai, a member of the Bhutanese community in Baltimore, harvests veggies it the New Roots community garden. In April, 2014 the US resettled its 75,000th refugee from Bhutan.
Sudarshan, 21, was born in Bhutan but grew up in a refugee camp in Nepal. “We had no future there,” he told me. Here in Baltimore he faces new challenges navigating tough neighborhoods and helping his his parents Lok and Hari figure out how things work.
Lok and Hari's daughter Monika sits with her husband Bhawani and daughter Blossom. "We're hopeful for our children," says Hari.
Light catches a small Hindu statue in Lok and Hari's apartment. For many in the Baltimore Bhutanese community staying connected to religion has been an important part of resettlement.
Lok Acharya at home in Baltimore's Frankford neighborhood.
Planting season begins again at Karesa Bari Garden.
Happy Spring! Til Rai, one of the #NewRoots photography workshop participants prepares her garden plot.
#GARDENREFUGE I'm posting #pictures from a project about #Bhutanese #refugees rebuilding their lives in #Baltimore. You can meet the #gardeners and see #photos they took at the Walters Art Museum in June.
Garden Refugee tells the story of Lok Acharya, a farmer from the small Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. In the 1990s, when ethnic conflict flared up there, Lok and his family were forced to flee to Nepal. After 18 years of waiting to return home it became clear Bhutan would not let them back in. Now they are building a new life in Baltimore, MD. Beginning again has been difficult but Lok finds joy and satisfaction in a community garden where he proudly grows food for his family once again.