By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – HIAS – the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society – is the oldest international migration service in the nation and in Philadelphia the organization has worked with a group of Bhutanese refugees in Northeast Philadelphia who dreamed of a community garden to carry on their traditions with their children.

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Due to the difficulties of accessing vacant land, they struggled to find a site for the garden for nearly two years. However, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia’s (PILCOP) Garden Justice Legal Initiative helped secure a place to raise crops.

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HIAS was finally able to connect the Bhutanese with the wonderful piece of land, and seven families began planting there in April!

After nearly two decades in refugee camps and several years in Philadelphia, these refugees are finally able to return to their agricultural heritage and incorporate it into their new lives here in America.

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Visit the websites of and, two special non-profit organizations for more information on their advocacy.