Refugees in Rochester - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Heidi Wigdahl

Refugees in Rochester

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Every year immigrants and refugees come to Rochester to start a new chapter in their lives.

The Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association (IMAA) in Rochester hopes to help make that transition a little easier.

Sarun Prum said he was only 21-years-old when he fled his home to escape the genocide in Cambodia.

"It was pretty dangerous," Prum said. "I walked through and ran through at night, through the land mines and before getting to our refugee camp, there was a soldier that could shoot and kill you."

Prum landed in Rochester in 1983 and sought help from IMAA.

IMAA started in 1984 due to the influx of displaced families who fled Southeast Asia, seeking safety in Minnesota

"Many of them are coming in traumatized by war, not having a grasp of the language, not understanding the culture, so they really had a lot of barriers standing in between them and self sufficiency," said Courntey Lawson, program manager at IMAA.

In 2010, IMAA helped 1,650 people achieve that self sufficiency with English not being their first language. Rochester represents 55 to 60 different languages.

"My experience here in Rochester since I came has been excellent and there have been many good things that have happened to me and my family since we came here," said Armin Budimlic, who is part of IMAA and from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Prum believes this as well. He's worked with IMAA for 26 years, helping others find jobs.

Prum said, "Life in America isn't easy but I strived for it and I made it."

Like IMAA's Facebook page by searching: IMAA (Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association) 


Powered by Frankly