When Mr. Ayub Mohammad was in eighth grade, members of the military detained him on his way to school and tried to conscript him into forced labor. When he refused, he was beaten and tortured.
“That day, I decided I had to leave Myanmar,” said Mr. Mohammad, who is a member of the Rohingya ethnic group, which has been subject to brutal persecution in the country.
In high school, he fled across the border to Bangladesh where, along with dozens of other Bangladeshi and Rohingya refugees, he boarded a boat bound for Malaysia. After 27 days floating in the Indian Ocean, many without food or water, the group was rescued by the Sri Lankan navy.
Mohammad spent four years in Sri Lanka before a resettlement program sent him to the U.S. He arrived in Clarkston, Georgia, in February 2012. A little more than two years later, he founded the Burmese Rohingya Community of Georgia (BRCG), a nonprofit dedicated to supporting refugees and immigrants.
“When I came here, I didn’t see anyone helping refugees except resettlement agencies, and typically only for a very short period of time, about three to six months,” Mr. Mohammad said. “But it takes much longer than that for people to become acclimated and self-sufficient.”
BRCG is one of a dozen partners — community groups, agencies, nongovernmental organizations and new citizens — who will inform and direct the work of GSU‘s new Clarkston-based Prevention Research Center (PRC) when it opens on Sept. 30. The center, led by faculty in the Georgia State University School of Public Health and funded by a $3.75 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), will focus on the health and health disparities of migrants and refugees.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on June 28