Friday, September 16, 2011
Caring for the Poor While Living in the US: Refugees
Do you ever have moments when you learn something new, like a spark of lightening blows up loud and blinding inside your mind, and you wonder..."How did I not know this? How have I lived this long and never come face to face with this truth?" That was me when I found out about the plight of refugees living in the United States. I had a Truman Show moment where I realized that the world is bigger and more complex than I thought it was one week ago.
"According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services refugees are persons living outside their country of origin who cannot return to their homes due to fear of persecution based on their race, religion, or membership in a particular social/political group." (from Multicultural Refugee Coalition)
I never asked to be introduced to the truth about refugees. I stumbled upon their existence by accident. I asked a friend for a book to read last year. She loaned me Strength in What Remains. At night I'd crawl into bed and open this book that would open my eyes to a whole new world of desperation, sadness, and hope back home in my own country. I could not believe that large numbers of immigrants end up in the United States every year who have been offered asylum from war-torn and famine stricken countries. These people have lived lives of terror, have experienced pain and abuse, seen scenes too horrific for any movie screen, and they are living right inside our borders. Most show up not speaking our language. They have no idea how to live in the developing world. They need help and healing from witnessing their homes burnt to the ground, their loved ones brutally murdered, and their children starving to death. Some of these people are brilliant individuals, well-respected, educated citizens in their own countries, but because they have very little help integrating into US life, they are living in poverty in slums in America.
I began reading about refugees on The Big Picture website by the Boston Globe. After reading Strength in What Remains, I ended up reading a fictional book (based on a true story) called Little Bee. I was deeply moved by both books.
While in the United States this summer, I asked two people to write up guest posts about the plight of the refugee in our country and how others could be involved. Both of these ladies are deeply connected to refugees in their communities and have graciously agreed to educate all of us about how we can love and serve this hidden group of people in our country.
But the stranger who dwells with you shall be to you as one born among you; and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. -- Leviticus 19:34
Other posts in this series on "Caring for the Poor While Living in the US":
Caring for the Poor While Living in the Good ol' U-S of A?
Who Are the Poor?
Looking for the Poor
Hi, My Name is Heather and I'm a Modern Day Slave Owner
First, The Purging
The Better World Shopping Guide
More Really Great Shopping Resources
Running Hard After Redemption
Shop for Clean Clothes
Guest Post, Wrestling with Poverty in the US, part one
Guest Post, Wrestling with Poverty in the US, part two
Guest Post, Wrestling with Poverty in the US, part three