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Posts Tagged ‘Cameroon’

Sweden has taken in a lot of refugees from troubled countries, but like the U.S., it sometimes struggles to find the best approach for absorbing the influx.

At the NY Times, Suzanne Daley writes about one Swede who may have found an important way to speed integration, a way that enriches the experience of Swedes and newcomers alike.

“Last year, when Ebba Akerman, 31, was teaching Swedish to immigrants in the suburbs of this city, she ran into one of her students on the train and asked him whether he enjoyed living in her country.

“She found the answer deeply disturbing. The man shrugged, saying his life here was not much different from the one he had left behind in Afghanistan. It became clear to her that most of her students, living in neighborhoods packed with immigrants, had virtually no contact with native Swedes.

“In the months that followed, Ms. Akerman decided to try to change that, calling herself the minister of dinners in charge of the Department of Invitations and using Facebook and Instagram to try to bring individual Swedes and immigrants together for a meal, something like a dating service.

“ ‘We let people into our country, but not into our society,’ Ms. Akerman said on a recent Friday night. … ‘I finally decided that I had to do something. I could be the connector.’ …

“On a recent evening, Ms. Akerman was feeding about a dozen people, including a middle-aged couple from Bangladesh who had brought a chicken dish, a recent arrival from Cameroon with her two children, a Swedish marketing expert, the mother of one of Ms. Akerman’s friends and a young Swedish doctor in training, all of whom had been early participants in her project. All told stories of good times and miscues.

“The marketing expert, Henrik Evrell, said he had served spaghetti Bolognese, the most Swedish dish he knew, to his guest from Ivory Coast. At first they had trouble communicating because his guest’s Swedish was so poor. But soon they discovered that they both spoke French and loved the same Ivory Coast musicians. After eating, they spent the rest of the evening in front of a computer, taking turns pulling up music on Spotify that each thought the other would like.” More here.

Photo: Casper Hedberg for The New York Times
Ebba Akerman set a table on her backyard for a meal that brought Swedes and immigrants together. 

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There are people who want to grow crops but have no land and people with arable land that lies fallow, and never the twain shall meet.

Oh, wait a minute.

“Susan and Paul Shay bought their four-acre dream spread years ago, with the idea of returning some of the land to farming,” writes Michael Prager at the Boston Globe.

“Meanwhile, when Seona Ngufor immigrated to America 10 years ago, she held onto the idea she would take up farming — as in her native Cameroon — if only she could get access to a farmable plot. …

“They were brought together by an unusual matchmaking service that uses geographic information system mapping data to pair would-be farmers with property owners who have extra land.

“The matching service is the work of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, a nonprofit organization in Lowell that trains farmers in organic growing and helps them find a plot to work. …

“New Entry uses GIS mapping data to screen for potential farm plots. The map sets contain a long list of criteria to distinguish individual parcels. … The system is so sophisticated it can pick out suburban homesteads with large patches of unused land, so New Entry was no longer limited to looking at obvious candidates, such as existing farms. …

“Once New Entry identifies sites, it approaches agricultural officials in the towns involved to work with landowners interested in turning over property to farmers.

“In Groton, for example, New Entry and the town’s agricultural commission hosted an information session with property owners. …

“ ‘There was a lot of information, a lot of resources,’ said Susan Shay, 63, a programmer and analyst at a medical malpractice insurer in Boston. …

Program director Rebecca Weaver “brought Ngufor, 56, who had taken the New Entry training program, to meet the Shays. …

“The Shays were so eager to see some of their land used for farming that they drove an easy bargain: rent of $1 a year, in exchange for a free go at whatever is growing.”

To see how New Entry’s maps identify potential farm space and to read the whole story, see the Globe article, here.

Photograph: Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff
Susan Shay (left) leased land she owns in Groton to Cameroon native Seona Ngufor for farming. Ngufor has just completed her first growing season.

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