Project Burmese: Rice Cookers For Refugees

The Burmese refugees pouring into Houston face a number of challenges. As detailed in our September 3 cover story (The Burmese Come to Houston), they have precious little time to adapt and find jobs in a sinking economy, and they're increasingly left to do much of it on their own. But Lian Nguyen has decided to hone in on one problem in particular: Newly arrived refugees are also having a hard time cooking their rice.

Nguyen is co-founder of Roguescene Houston, a promotion company that also holds charity events for the local Asian-American community. On October 9, Roguescene will host "Project Burmese" at the Blue Label lounge on Washington Avenue. The proceeds will buy rice cookers for each of the 150 Burmese families at the Sun Blossom apartments in southwest Houston, which were the focus of our feature story.

Nguyen got the idea from a brief mention in the story -- which she read while eating dinner at a Thai restaurant -- that refugees were struggling with frying pans to cook their all-important rice.

"They don't know how to use a lot of the [kitchen] stuff here. Rice cookers are simple," Nguyen says, adding that they can also be used to cook vegetables. "I have a tendency that if we can buy something tangible to give, that's what we really want to do."

Hong Kong Food Market in Dallas is providing the cookers at cost, and the National Association of Asian American Professionals has signed up to co-sponsor the event. The money will be raised through a $10 cover and donation boxes.

John Glenn, a Burmese refugee who lives at Sun Blossom and organizes residents in his spare time, has agreed to help coordinate the effort. After driving to Dallas to pick up the rice cookers, volunteers will personally deliver them to the families.

The event begins at 9 p.m. Those interested in donating or helping can contact Nguyen at 713-213-8518.

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