Burmese monks were beaten, jailed and killed while protesting Myanmar’s military regime in 2007, and dozens found refuge in America. But now most have been forced to swap their saffron-colored robes for blue-collar workwear and abandon their monkhood out of a need to scratch out a living in their adopted land.
The few remaining monks are clinging to their vocation in the rundown former textile mill town of Utica some 240 miles (380 km) north of New York City, trying to adapt.
Some 38 monks were granted asylum in the United States soon after the Saffron Revolution, the 2007 protests during which barefoot, shaven-headed monks shielded and led civilians to march against rising fuel prices which snowballed into the biggest challenge to military rule since a 1988 uprising.
Today, just eight remain monks.