Gardening, once done for survival, takes a therapeutic turn for refugee in Nebraska
For Lamya Ali, gardening is a refuge.
By Dan McCann
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska
Mar 26, 2017
Lamya enjoys growing tomatoes, bell peppers, okra, eggplant and herbs. She also likes to “plant some seeds from back home.”
Back home is Iraq. Lamya is a refugee. She and her family fled the war-torn country in the early 1980s when she was a child, resettling in a couple of Middle Eastern refugee camps before arriving in Lincoln in 1999. Surrounded by uncertainty growing up, gardening brought a sense of peace.
“When we left the country, they placed us near farms and villages, and we had a big garden. We planted all kinds of vegetables and herbs and lived off them because, financially, my family lost everything,” she recalls. “I wanted to have a garden in my life again.”
An avid cook with an affinity for Indian cuisine, Lamya uses her produce in recipes and shares the surplus with her sisters and mother. Supplementing her stock is as easy as visiting the Community Crops Veggie Van, a mobile farmers market supported, in part, by a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska Fearless Grant.