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October 20, 2016

Ruth Puii: Survives Dangerous Road To


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                                                                      by jim richmond


Ruth Puii has waited nine years for this day, and traveled thousands of miles, walking barefoot, traveling by small boat over dangerous waters, as a Burmese ethnic and religious refugee. 

Today, Ruth was sworn in as a U.S. Citizen in official ceremonies in Grand Rapids.


With Ruth is her 20 year old daughter, Lydia, and both work as seasonal staff members at the Leila Arboretum‘s urban farm.


FullSizeRender (39).jpgYesterday, Leila staff and volunteers gathered, with cake, American flags, gifts and Ruth’s favorite American delights – orange diet pop and Doritos – to help recognize and celebrate her accomplishments.

After two months of study, Ruth passed her citizenship tests with a perfect score of 100. 


A quiet, unassuming person who like her daughter, are tremendous workers, Ruth, her husband Joseph, and four children are now in the United States.


They traveled as members of the Chin Christian tribe, minority refugees from largely Buddish Burma,  and without passports, on the long journey by walking, bus and small boat  through Thailand and Malaysia before getting to America.


Along the way, they were harassed by Malaysia police, put in a refugee camp, spent 27 days in a bare room, and often had little water and no food.


But all that is behind them.  Ruth said she is surprised at all the opportunities she has already had in America, and daughter Lydia is a nursing student at Kellogg Community College.


FullSizeRender (3).jpgLeila’s Executive Director Brett Myers: “We feel so honored to have Ruth and Lydia on our staff. 

They are part of the Leila family, as well as the national and diverse  “American family” all of us so love.



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