Wandaka Musongera was born in Democratic Republic of Congo but had to leave at age nine due to war. His family lived in Uganda for seven years as refugees. Life wasn’t easy there. He didn’t go to school for the first two years due to lack of school fees but finally got a scholarship from the missionaries and worked extremely hard to make good grades so they could continue supporting his studies. He started working as a materials recycler at age eleven to contribute to his family’s income.
Wandaka’s family came to the United States in July 2013. Things weren’t as he expected: the weather was terrible, he still had to work long hours and the social culture was very different. But slowly he says he is adapting to American life and knows, after having lived in three countries, that in every place there is good and bad.
Wandaka got his first garden at age seven and looked after goats and pigs. He loves soccer, nature and travel and has finished two marathons. He’s enrolled in ACC studying political science with plans to teach.
He’s excited for his work at New Leaf and has this to say about it, “I love my role at MRC. I believe in its mission and it gives me an opportunity to work with folks from around the world which has helped me develop and grow as a person. I have learned to love and appreciate different cultures.”
Krishna Bista, Grower
Krishna is from Bhutan, where she grew rice, corn, ginger, cows, goats and chickens. She fled to Nepal before being resettled in the US in 2010. She began gardening with MRC in 2013 at the Festival Beach Community Garden and began working at the New Leaf Farm in March 2018. Krishna’s favorite things to do include cooking, working in her backyard garden and gathering with her big family. She lives with her husband, four sons, daughter, two daughters-in-law and one grandchild.
Dewaki Dahal, Grower
Dewaki was born in Bhutan and learned farming from her parents who owned about 35 acres for crops and animals, including cows and buffalo that were used for ploughing. In 1991 she moved to Nepal for safety and lived there for 19 years before arriving in the US in 2010. She now lives in Austin with her husband and four daughters. Dewaki has gardened with support from MRC in a plot at Festival Beach Community Gardens since 2011 and began working at the New Leaf Farm in March of 2018. She says she is happy to be able to work with friends and earn money by farming. She also likes to cook and feed her community. Her favorite crops to grow are cucumbers and okra.
Pavitra Rai, Farm Apprentice
Pavitra grew up in Bhutan caring for crops like corn, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and rice as well as livestock. She then moved to Nepal to seek refuge and was resettled in Austin in 2012, where she lives now with her husband, three sons, a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter. Pavitra helped MRC start our Lanier Garden in 2014 and also participated in the FarmLink program with Green Gate Farms. She works hard at New Leaf Farm and says she likes doing all the tasks and is grateful for the chance to contribute to her family’s income. Her job at New Leaf is her first paid job in the US.
Doli Wikongo, Farm Apprentice
Doli grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo where her family owned a large farm growing many crops, including bananas and corn which they made into beer. She moved to the US in 2013 and started working on an MRC garden plot at Lanier Gardens in 2014. She is excited for her work at New Leaf Farm and hopes to have her own plot and to be able to teach her kids farming. She lives with her husband and six children, one of whom is her supervisor at New Leaf Farm, New Leaf Coordinator Wandaka Musongera.