refugees

Riding around in the back seat of Zarco’s (our security guard) car everything felt so new and exciting. We stopped to get gas and I marveled at how someone came and pumped it for us. I stared out the window with no idea where we were. I babbled in English.

Even the most ordinary things felt exciting.

I lived in the moment because every moment seemed like the most exciting one.

That summer in Honduras was a long time ago.

Now I take the same street to work every day, go to the same gas station and to the same grocery store. I wish I had more time, that I could drive faster, and that the gas light didn’t bing at such inconvenient times.

But yesterday I picked up three Nepali women who work with me. They live right 5 minutes from my apartment.

Driving down Poplar Avenue seemed a little more exciting through their eyes as they babbled in Nepali.

Walking into work their eyes were big and excited. They greet everyone with a hug. They taught me how to say “Āja kāma” [work today] on the way there and we said it over and over.

Sangita, Dill, and and Kali seemed ready to change the world yesterday—wholly unprepared with their little purses, bananas and limited English.

These ladies are living in much different circumstances that I ever have. They aren’t on a summer long trip, but rather a forced relocation. They have no return ticket home, but yet they have a wonder, optimism and excitement.

These women lived in a refugee camp for 20 years. Refugee camps are intended to be temporary places (see more about refugee camps), but they were forced out of their country because of their ethnicity and there were no countries willing to accept them. So they waited… for 20 years.

Six years ago, they were finally included in the fairly large number of people that our country was accepting each year. These women live in tiny apartments in a low income area. They grow most of what they eat and cling to their simple jobs.

They attend a small house church in their native language. Kali’s son recently got married and they threw a wedding party right there in their small apartment.

They often bring me beans to cook for my husband or a banana while we work. They bring light, life and inspiration to our work environment.

I feel both honored and unworthy to be their friends.

World Relief, an aid organization serving the most vulnerable, has laid off staff in the past couple years because the number of refugees being brought to our country is being drastically cut and they receive government funding based on the number of new refugee arrivals.

Maybe this will inspire you to research more about refugees. As you research, learn and form your own opinions, would you consider beginning with the practice we began the other day?

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