"We got something we both know it.. We don't talk too much about it."
I’ve never had to really consider the difficulty of what it means to be displaced. I live in a country that is safe and where political instability hasn’t forced me out of my home.
Last week, a friend of mine brought a refugee family to my attention that has just gotten authorization to come to the United States. I think a tendency among Americans, or westerners at least, is to think of how great it must be to come to America, especially after devastating crisis has occurred in your own country. It’s true--we live in a great nation for a lot of reasons, and we are extremely fortunate to be here. Whether you like it or not, you have the chance to work here if you want to, and to go to school here if you want to, and to build a future and a life here for you and your family, if you want to.
That is no small thing, yet I think about a family who has been forced out of their home to move to a strange, unknown place. What if you don’t speak the language? What if you don’t know one single person? What if no one looks like you, or everyone behaves differently than how you know you’re supposed to act? What if you don’t have a job? And what if you have no way to get to a place that might hire someone who speaks your language? What if you have a family to take care of? What if you don’t have food, or know where to buy it, or have any way to afford it?
All this adds up and overwhelms you, and if that isn’t enough, then you realize that the landscape is completely different. The land doesn’t even look like home. There are too many trees, or not enough trees. Too many roads, too many cars lights, too much chaos, and under the weight of a wave of stimuli to every sense so heavy you collapse in your mind and close your eyes and hope it will pass and you can go back home, where you know someone, and you can speak, and there are trees, and you can be safe, and you are home.
I have never had to consider that before. It must be a wonderful thing coming here for the first time where a refugee may find asylum from serious crisis, but it is not the same as home. Hopefully, one day it will be for their children--and maybe in time, for them too.
On the “western” side of this, what can we do to help refugees--people seeking refuge--in our cities? Many of them are in need of shelter, food, clean water, clothes, books, job resources, and language skills. I would think that all are in need of friendship. Until we are presented with opportunities to care for them personally, we can welcome them and offer them hope when they might be feeling despair instead. And while we often live in drastically different circumstances, we can share our lives with them. We have every reason to hope in the midst of despair - we know that at the root of the issue, none of us belong here and we are all refugees until we reach our new Home.
In mass exodus, thousands of Syrians flee Iraq. (Source)
Anne-Taylor Robertson is a member of City Church. You can read more of her writing on her blog, This and That.
We will collect household items and clothing (as well as gift cards and financial contributions) for the family Anne-Taylor mentions in this post. Clothing sizes are as follows: women’s pants (size 11 or 12), tops (M, L,XL), bras (42B, 36B), and shoes (7.5, 8); men’s pants (30 x 30 and 36 x 32), shirts (M and XL), shoes (8.5 and 9.5); boy’s pants (sizes 5-6 and 11- 14), shirts (sizes 5-6 and 12), and shoes (6.5).
We will have boxes set up in the Parlor where you can drop of any items you’d like to donate. If you have questions, please contact Anne-Taylor Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org.