The actions that define us refugees
Community | Write 31 Days 2017

The Actions That Define Us

October 28, 2017
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Some time ago I found myself in the company of twenty-one refugees, and individuals who, in one way or another, are assisting refugees.

Being a refugee may be a defining moment in the lives of those who are refugees, but being a refugee does not define them. Like countless thousands before them, this will be a period—we hope a short period—in their lives. Some of them will go on to be Nobel laureates, public servants, physicians, scientists, musicians, artists, religious leaders, and contributors in other fields. Indeed, many of them were these things before they lost everything. This moment does not define them, but our response will help define us. ~ Elder Patrick Kearon

 

What a blessing it was to sit in council with these individuals to discuss some unique questions, questions that, while initially used to discuss the refugee situation, can also have a powerful effect when applied to improving our relationships with families, friends, neighbors, and the community as a whole.

QUESTION #1: WHAT CONVERSATION TO YOU WANT/NEED TO HAVE?

QUESTION #2: WHAT IS THE STORY ABOUT OUR COMMUNITY? WHAT QUESTIONS DO WE HEAR BEING ASKED IN OUR COMMUNITY?

QUESTION #3: HOW IS HOLDING ONTO THOSE (OFTEN NEGATIVE) STORIES LIMITING OUR POTENTIAL FOR THE FUTURE?

QUESTION #4: WHAT COULD SOMETHING RADICALLY NEW LOOK LIKE? WHAT DECLARATION OR STATEMENT OF POSSIBILITY OR ACTION CAN YOU MAKE THAT COULD TRANSFORM THE WAY THE COMMUNITY DOES THINGS?

 

Below are some of the ideas that were shared during our refugee council. Many of these ideas can be applied to other areas of our lives as well:

 

QUESTION #1: WHAT CONVERSATION TO YOU WANT/NEED TO HAVE?

  1. How can we increase community collaboration?
  2. How can we leverage our resources?
  3. How can we increase synergy and improve communication?
  4. How can we better assist those who are dealing with physical/mental trauma

 

QUESTION #2: WHAT IS THE STORY ABOUT OUR COMMUNITY? WHAT QUESTIONS DO WE HEAR BEING ASKED IN OUR COMMUNITY?

  1. What are our roles and responsibilities as community members? refugee agencies? (
  2. In what ways can we help refugees?
  3. How can we overcome fear of other cultures?
  4. How can we overcome language barriers?
  5. How can we restore hope to the hopeless?

 

QUESTIONS #3 & #4: HOW IS HOLDING ONTO THOSE (OFTEN NEGATIVE) STORIES LIMITING OUR POTENTIAL FOR THE FUTURE? WHAT COULD SOMETHING RADICALLY NEW LOOK LIKE? WHAT DECLARATION OR STATEMENT OF POSSIBILITY OR ACTION CAN YOU MAKE THAT COULD TRANSFORM THE WAY THE COMMUNITY DOES THINGS?

 

 

refugee

To overcome confusion, lack of information, fear, lack of communication, and despair, the following suggestions were made:

  1. BE PROACTIVE. Each one of us can do something. Forget the stories; just act. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do; don’t wait to get involved with an organization; begin on your own, if needed, right now. Love DOES! Doing good is contagious.
  2. SHARE EXPERIENCES. Share, with humility, on social media and in other places, the ways in which you have gotten involved in the community. Doing so will help spread the word about service opportunities and will (hopefully) inspire others to get involved.
  3. PROMOTE POSITIVE MEDIA COVERAGE for interfaith/interpolitical events. These types of events that build bridges between peoples of different faiths and beliefs are happening all around us, but are too often overlooked by the media.
  4. FIND WAYS TO GET REFUGEES INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY. This is the most effective way for them to learn our language.
  5. PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR REFUGEES TO GATHER WITH ONE ANOTHER. Doing so would allow them to share with one another their stories of loss, failures, hope, and success.
  6. CREATE A COMMUNITY RESOURCE LIST. Compile a list of individuals, families, and organizations, along with their strengths/talents/resources, who are willing to assist refugees in any way.
  7. CREATE A LIST OF NEEDS. Address the most immediate needs first.

 

We spent nearly three hours expressing our concerns, listening to one another, finding common ground, offering hope, building bridges–in essence, loving one another.

 

After the meeting I drove home on Cloud Nine, completely overwhelmed and inspired by how many good people there are in the world.

Diana, Abeer, Nagia.

Suzanne, Christina, Gul.

Jenny, Leslie, Scott, and Adam.

Just a few of the individuals I was so fortunate to rub shoulder with that night.

 

“Is there hope for this world,” someone recently asked me, “or is it too far gone?”

I paused to reflect on his question and then smiled.

“Oh, there’s hope,” I plan to write in my next letter to him, “so much hope.”

 

Day 26 Challenge: Ponder: How might discussing these questions with individuals in your life provide you with more hope for the future?

 

This is Day 26 of my Write 31 Days series for 2017: 31 Days to an Authentic Life.
For an index of all the posts in the series, please click HERE.

action define refugee

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  1. I absolutely love this post! My sister and brother in law do a lot of refugee work and I am always so inspired by their stories and how hard they work to build a loving community for them. Seems that you have a very big heart for this kind of work just like they do! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. This post is beautiful! I always love hearing refugee stories and how are able to see The Lord working in their lives. It’s amazing how humbling it can be to hear them talk about how thankful they are for what they have, then hear myself complaining about something so minimal. Also, what a sweet reminder of how strong a community can be when we take these small steps. Thanks for sharing!

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