Refugee starts urban garden for other refugees

Posted on Nov 20 2015 - 11:06am by UOG

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jen French) — Beatrice Gatebuke’s roots are actually in Rwanda. She’s a refugee. At the age of 13, she and her parents escaped genocide.

“Nothing was familiar,” Gatebuke said. “It’s a brand new environment. We didn’t speak the language; we had to go through translators.”

Gatebuke started an urban garden for refugees off of Paragon Mills Road. She said many refugees can’t afford their own vegetables. The non-profit is called FASHA, or Fervent Assistance to Survivors for Healthy Adjustments.

“We had tomatoes,” Gatebuke said. “We have bell peppers. We had okra. Some of our people can’t afford to buy vegetables from the store because it’s just so expensive.”

Gatebuke graduated from Northwestern and now works as an information systems analyst for Community Health Systems in Franklin. She came to the United States through the refugee program.

“We were resettled by the Catholic Charities,” Gatebuke said.

According to the Catholic Diocese of Nashville, Catholic Charities gets federal grants and is contracted by the US government to distribute grants for resettling in Tennessee.

When it comes to state money, such as TennCare and SNAP, State Senator Bill Ketron would like to know how much is going to those forced to settle. He is drafting financial transparency legislation that he plans on introducing next session.

“In the past, nobody would ever give us those numbers,” State Senator Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, said. “We’ve worked diligently to combine these numbers to base our claims on. “What my bill will do is expose a lot of those expenses that nobody knows that we’re paying currently.”

Gatebuke said both of her parents are employed. When her family came to the United States, they were required to pay the federal government back for the plane tickets that got them here.

Gatebuke understands there’s growing tension over the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe. She hopes she can cultivate relationships with new refugees so they can flourish here.

“We are all working and trying to contribute to American society,” Gatebuke said.

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