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Forty years after coming to the United States as a refugee from Cambodia, her produce business thrives
WESTFORD — It was 3 a.m. when 13-year-old Phalla Nol snuck out of her family’s bamboo and thatch shelter at the Mak Mun refugee camp, or “Old Camp,” on the Cambodian border with Thailand. After she and some of the boys from the camp slipped past the guards and into Thailand, they walked along the road in the dark. They knew there were hostile Vietnamese, Khmer Rouge, and thieves all around. They hid when necessary, taking whatever path they could until they reached their destination: a small market filled with stalls. As she moved from vendor to vendor, Nol bought cookies, cupcakes, and candy. Once she was safely back at Old Camp, however, she didn’t eat her spoils. Instead, she sold them at a higher price to other kids at the camp, using the profit on her next clandestine trip to buy food for her family and invest in more sweets to further her venture. This, Nol explains, was how she knew how to sell produce 30 years later. Phalla Nol always had an eye for business.
BECKET — When MOMA invited Adam Weinert to reconstruct some of Ted Shawn’s early solo works in 2013 as part of its 20 Dancers for the XX Century dance program, he seized the opportunity. Like many male dancers, he feels indebted to the modern dance pioneer for forging a pathway for male bodies in that art form. Ted Shawn and his Men Dancers performed only until 1940, and Weinert speculates that it is perhaps because of the interruption of two world wars that Shawn’s work wasn’t “passed body to body” as it was for his contemporary Isadora Duncan and student Martha Graham. Since there was no one from whom Weinert could learn Shawn’s choreography, he undertook his reconstruction “from the outside in.” He began at the source.
LANCASTER — Six days a week, May through October, 33-year-old Henrietta Nyaigoti arrives at Flats Mentor Farm by 7 a.m. She waters the inside of her two high tunnels, checks the progress of the vegetables growing there, and walks her family’s 2 acres to assess any damage from pests and weather. During planting season, she puts seeds in the ground, and during growing season, tills weeds and makes any necessary soil amendments. At 2:30 p.m. on weekdays, she drives 15 minutes home, where she lives with her two young daughters, then showers and changes before heading to her job as an assistant program manager at a group home for individuals with traumatic brain injuries. She works there 50 to 70 hours per week during farm season, and 80 to 100 hours in the off-season. All year round, Nyaigoti spends 30 hours a week as a home health aide at an assisted living facility. She recently began a position as a sales coordinator for World Farmers — the nonprofit that operates Flats Mentor Farm — which has so far been a 10-hour a week commitment, though she expects that will increase. And this May, after three years of hard work, she will complete coursework for her Master’s in Public Health at Southern New Hampshire University. Nyaigoti says, “I work hard because I have an opportunity that many people don’t, especially in Kenya.”