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Refugees: Their Experience & Our Perception

I am preparing to attend a Community of Practice this week organized by the American Bible Society.  This annual gathering includes an opportunity to network and learn from those committed to domestic and global trauma healing. This year’s theme is “We are Sojourners:  Refugees & Trauma.”  It is an appropriate theme in a glaring, growing issue of our day.  Statistics tell us that by the end of 2014, 59.5 million people were forcibly displaced, 51% under the age of 18.  In 2015, more than a million refugees crossed into Europe.

Included in the agenda of this year’s topics and speakers, will be presentations on refugees in the Middle East, Africa and USA.  I will be co-presenting based on involvement with African refugees who live in Rwanda and USA, as well as have the opportunity to talk about domestic sex trafficking and the similarities between refugees and victims of human trafficking.

Over the next few days, I plan to share a few of my reflections and experiences.  I am not an expert on the needs or response to refugees.  I am a student and I pass on what I am learning because I believe we have a responsibility.  Psychologist, author and trauma expert, Diane Langberg has said, “It is dangerous to be content with our own freedom while we have neighbors who still do not have theirs.”

There has been an emphasis on the lives and stories of refugees in current social media and press.  The stories and images can be heartbreaking and almost too much to bear.  While I could feature many articles or stories that I have found important or educational, this poem is one that causes us to really consider the experience of refugees and then evaluate our response and perception of them.  Refugee: a name or identity given to them not by their own choice.  What is our response as we consider the reality of this final statement of the poem?  How will this shape our perception, our conversations and our involvement?

“…no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear saying-leave,
run away from me now.  i dont know what i’ve become but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.”



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