Chin Refugee Ministry Newsletter from Lewisville, Texas.
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Thank You Hebron High School National Honor Society

Newsletter: April 2013

Hebron Reading Program StudentsOnce a month, 15 members of the National Honor Society at Hebron High School have been giving up their Saturday leisure plans to participate in a reading program for Chin elementary students.  Farhan Ahmed, Vice-President of NHS, organized this dedicated group. 

At each event, Chin students choose a book they want to read to one of the high school students. The high school student listens, encourages, explains words their reader doesn’t know, and then asks questions to ensure the Chin student is understanding what he or she is reading. 

Upon completing the book, the Chin student then receives a prize, with extra points for reading a “long book.”  Pre-K and kindergarten students may also participate in the reading initiative by choosing a book to be read to them. 

The program is modeled after CRM’s summer reading program for 2nd through 5th graders, led by Rochelle Webb.

College Bound!

College BoundChin Refugee Ministry knows of at least 6 Chin students graduating this year from Lewisville High School who will be going on to college! 

Congratulations to these students who have persevered through incredibly difficult conditions. These hard-working students begin with no English skills at all, and master enough to pass the state TAKS tests. 

Congratulations to their families, as well, who have sacrificed financially to keep their students in school.  And a big thank you to those of you in the American community who have taught, tutored, encouraged, kept the dream of college in front of these students, and given them practical help in filling out innumerable application and financial aid forms.

Chin Corner

When Reading in Your Language is Not a Tradition

Lai (Hakha Chin), the language of the majority of the Chin people in Lewisville, did not become a written language until the 1890s.  In contrast, the English language became “written” in approximately the 5th century.  Before 1948, reading and writing in Lai was taught in the elementary schools.  English was taught in middle and high schools, and the Burmese language was a required subject like math. 

When the Burmese took over Chin State after 1948, Lai was outlawed for all children after the age of 7.  Since many villages could only afford a primary school that goes to grade 4, most students left school at age 8 or 9.  No textbooks or any other books in Lai are allowed to be printed.

In 1988, the Chin churches formed a Christian literature society to try to help the people in Chin State become literate in their own language.  This group was re-organized in 1993 as the Chin Association for Christian Communication. In March of 1996 they began a program of training teachers to teach Chin at Chin Teaching Centers. This was intended to last through 1999, but had severe financial problems – no notebooks, pencils, candles or kerosene – and all teachers were volunteers.

Regrettably, we do not know the rest of the story, and there is dispute over the literacy level of the Chin people in Lewisville.  They say their people are 80% literate in their own language, but we believe they are approximately 50% illiterate in their own language, a disparity for which there is much shame.

Farhan and JenniferA Note from Our Director

One of Chin Refugee Ministry's Core Values is Next-Generation Awareness.  We especially seek to build relationships with the next generation – both Americans and Chin – in order to reduce the risk of alienation that second generation refugees often experience. We offer guidance to younger Americans who must learn to build cross-cultural bridges in the global culture they will live in.

I asked Farhan why he had organized the reading program for the group (our lead story in the newsletter). He told me he had previously worked at a middle school event with Somalian refugees and noticed the difference in world views and status between himself and the refugees. 

His goal was to help his classmates gain a deeper understanding of world events and see how they can make a difference by helping others who have experienced hardships.  He was surprised by the number of children who came (about 20) and the enthusiasm they have for reading.  He was complimentary of Chin Refugee Ministry’s supportive atmosphere and compassion for the children. 

Jennifer Tran also worked at the event because she enjoys engaging with kids.  She, too, was surprised by the number of students who showed up, as she also worked in another program which had difficulty getting students to attend.  Jennifer appreciated how hard the students worked and how much they really enjoyed reading. 

If you would like to help Chin students improve on this critical skill, please go to our website and ask for more information on our school buddy program.

Becky Nelson
Director, Chin Refugee Ministry
(972)  221-3249

May 5 - Chin Give Day
Volunteers Needed

8:45 - 9:15am - Loading Crew: Meet at Quilt Country at 701 S Stemmons Fwy, Lewisville, TX 75067 to help load the clothes.

9:30 -10am - Set-up Crew: Meet at Basswood Apt 1020 Fox Ave, Lewisville, TX 75067 inside the courtyard to help set-up the clothes.

10:00am - 12:00pm - Shopping Helpers: Handing out bags for the Chin as they shop, restocking and helping them find what they need, and interacting with the Chin families.

12:00-12:30pm -  Clean up Crew: Clean up what is left. Load the trailer back up. Drive over to Quilt Country to help unload the leftover clothes.
**We also need volunteers to take discarded items to Goodwill or CCA.

Contact Mitch Gray at if you or your small group can help

May 5 - "Going Deeper" Children's Choir Performance
6:00-8:00pm at FBC Lewisville. Will include a Chin family's story of flight from persecution to religious freedom in America.

May 7 - Denton County Health Department Chin Clinic

May 14 - Denton County Health Department Chin Clinic
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