6.20.2007

World Refugee Day

Today is World Refugee Day. Learn more at the UNHCR website. You can also learn more on the US Bishops website. That's where I found this poem by 14-year-old Sudanese refugee named Deng Duot.
Becoming a Refugee

By Deng Duot
Dimma Refugee Camp
June 2004

The actual moment,
Of Exile,
Is like an illness.
You are ill,
With rage.

To each family,
It means closing the door,
On friends, culture, your native country.

One year is an exile,
Compared to ten years.

Ten years,
Means nothing,
In the history of the country.

But for a human being,
Is a long time.
For a child,
A life time.
Some of us,
We're born in Ethiopian camps.

Peace is 'round the corner,
What I call home,
Will still be,
Another exile.
Because,
I don't know home.

What an irony,
To become a refugee.

The worldwide refugee problem looms large. You can see war and armed conflict on your tv set, and you know that real live innocent people are made homeless as a result. But what can you possibly do to help?

I my own life, I was blessed to participate in a small way in something you can do. My parish in Portland worked with Catholic Charities to help resettle a family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I will never forget meeting the Wasongolo family for the first time at our Good Friday services in 2004. Our refugee resettlement committee had spent months getting their home ready for them, but here they were safe, sound and ready to begin again. Talk about resurrection! Over the years they have become active participants in the parish and larger community. Last I heard the mom was singing in the choir! Personally I did very little to help this wonderful family, but it was amazing to watch our community welcome them and in turn to experience all this family brings to that community now! That's what church is all about in my humble opinion.

On this World Day for Refugees, learn more about the problem, think about what you can do to help our brothers & sisters, and most importantly pray for an end to armed conflicts that displace people from their homes.

2 comments:

julie, ihm said...

Thanks, Susan Rose, for this important info and reflection.

Lisa said...

Very thought-provoking and timely! With so much discourse around immigration, how important for us to realize that many undocumented immigrants are really refugees from dangerous social and political realities. We absolutely bear a responsibility for and an accountability to one another!