Minnesota Karen community leader Marner Saw has died from complications related to COVID-19, according to the Karen Organization of Minnesota (KOM). He was 50 years old.
Marner Saw, who was one of the founders of the Karen Organization of Minnesota and became one of the group's first staff members when it opened in 2009, "helped thousands of refugee families start a new life in Minnesota and become citizens," the organization said in a Facebook post.
He was born in Burma in 1970 and then spent some time in a refugee camp in Thailand. He moved to Minnesota with his family in 2005, according to his bio on KOM's website.
"Throughout his life, he was a strong advocate for Karen people around the world and peace in his home country of Burma. He was also a loving husband, brother, father, grandfather, and friend to many of us. May he rest in peace," the KOM said.
In addition to the Karen Organization of Minnesota, he was a leader at Trinity Karen Baptist Chuch and the Karen Organization of America.
MPR News says Marner Saw spent several weeks in the hospital prior to his death. Funeral services are planned for Wednesday.
According to KOM, more than 17,000 Karen people have resettled in Minnesota since the 2000s, making it the largest Karen community in the United States.