The International Institute of Buffalo, a United Way Program Partner, offers a wide range of services to help immigrants, refugees, and those who face linguistic or cultural barriers become self sufficient, active community members.

Meh, a twenty five year old Karenni woman from Thailand, arrived in Buffalo in June of 2010 with her three children. She did not speak English and did not know a single person in Buffalo.   Her husband stayed behind in Burma, because he had not completed the refugee application process.  Meh made the difficult decision to leave her husband in Burma to give herself and her children a brighter future.  With the help of the Refugee Resettlement Program at the International Institute, Meh began to sort out all that she would need to begin her new life in Buffalo.  With the help of her case manager, Meh was able to apply for a number of temporary benefits and income supports like Food Stamps, Cash Assistance, and Medicaid.

Meh was matched with a local Buffalo community member to assist her in navigating her new life in America. She and Meh’s caseworker helped Meh get situated in Buffalo – from taking her to the laundromat, to teaching her good parenting skills, helping her buy warm clothing for her children and taking her to a bank to set up an account.

Since then Meh has started taking English classes, her youngest child is in day care and her two other children are enrolled in school – third grade and kindergarten. Meh even went to her daughter’s school for parent teacher night where both her and her daughter had a fantastic time. Meh has also received some wonderful news from her case worker- she had spoken with an immigration representative and as long as the right paperwork was filed Meh’s husband can join her in the states. She is currently anxiously awaiting the approval process so she can have her entire family together in Buffalo.

Without the help of the International Institute, Meh would have had no support when she came to the United States. The International Institute helped her get comfortable, and gave her and her family the ability to live a happy and healthy life as new members of our community.

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