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Myanmar teen refugees look for foster homes.

Byline: Bronislaus Kush


Myanmar, formerly Burma, has been in political turmoil since 1962 when a general staged a coup, banning political opposition and suspending the constitution.

The violence between the military junta and ethnic insurgency groups has driven thousands from the country, which was once part of Great Britain's vast Indian empire.

Many have been forced to live for a long time in refugee camps.

Fortunately, a half-dozen teens have made their way out of those camps and are now safely in Worcester, looking for foster parents to care for them.

Last Wednesday, the teens met with prospective parents in a get-together sponsored by Lutheran Social Services.

The nonprofit has offered a variety of services for about 135 years and has operated a foster parent program since 1980. Lutheran Social Services has helped find foster parents for children from Sudan, Liberia, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Guatemala and other countries.

During the get-acquainted session last week at the agency's office on Hamilton Street, parents who have already adopted kids from Myanmar were on hand to talk about their experience.

The six newcomers also had a chance to mingle with some Myanmar teens who have already been lucky enough to have found foster parents.

Marie Fitzpatrick, a foster family recruiter for Lutheran Social Services, said the evening was planned to give people a chance to learn more about the Myanmar culture and to get to know the teens.

Folks interested in becoming foster parents, or who might want more information about Lutheran Social Services' Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program, should call (508) 791-4488.

At age 37, a point when most rugby players are bowing out of the physically demanding sport, Phil Callahan decided to take up the game.

Mr. Callahan, who died of cancer last week at age 65, became a force to be reckoned with, on and off the rugby pitch, according to longtime friend and Worcester Rugby Football Club teammate Dennis Irish. He was still knocking heads with opponents on the field as late as a year ago.

"His dedication was amazing," said Mr. Irish. "Through lean years and good years with the club, he never let up ... always pushing himself and others to make us more successful."

Widely known in the community as the proprietor of Callahan Brothers Funeral Home on Myrtle Street and for his active work with the Worcester Crisis Center and YOU Inc., Mr. Callahan took on what amounted to another full-time job organizing, recruiting players, and watching over the club for 28 years.

His teammates, past and present, reciprocated en masse. More than 40 WRFC players - wearing their No. 1's, blue blazers, ties and khaki pants - marched in a silent procession from the Worcester Hibernian Cultural Center on Temple Street to the Callahan & Fay Brothers Funeral Home Thursday night to attend the wake for Mr. Callahan. They were out in force again the next day for his funeral, and then, with glasses raised on high, at the reception that followed for a spirited rendition of "Wild Rover."

Sylvia's Dress Shop, a longtime fixture on Main Street, has moved to the Franklin Street storefront that for years housed Bancroft Liquors.

Sylvia's, which has been run by the Swirsky family since its founding in 1931, has taken up quarters in the building at 64 Franklin St. that's owned by the Mayo Group.

The shop, a mecca for promgoers and brides-to-be in search of gowns, was located at 517 Main St.

Jay Whearley of the Telegram & Gazette staff contributed to this report.


CUTLINE: Enjoying a get-together at the Lutheran Social Services office last week, are, from left in front row, foster parent Paul Boulanger, and Myanmar refugees Cin, Zing and Cin, and Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program manager Ye Myint; in the back from left, are refugee Thia Zel, URMP case manager Becca Ely, refugee Ni, URMP case manager Laura Westerling, and refugee Za.

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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 20, 2008
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