|Sophia as baby on the back in Uganda, 1993|
Growing up in East Africa, I have many friends who were born in times of trouble, war, and genocide. Often when given the opportunity their families left their countries in order to save the lives of their children. My friends lived in refugee camps and were fed by relief efforts of wealthier nations. Neighboring countries opened their arms providing refugee children with the opportunities to go to school and gave their parents jobs. I did not fully understand the complexity when I was a small child in Uganda; and my best friend was not Ugandan, but Rwandan. Our favorite thing to do was sit under the jack fruit tree’s at church, tell stories, and take turns on the swing. As children our stories never involved violence and abuse. My friend and I were blessed to live with our parents in safety.
As I grew older and lived in Rwanda, one of my best friends in high school was
born in Uganda during times of trouble. Her
father served in the Rwandan Patriotic Front, and she and I talked much of war
and politics that raged throughout sub-Saharan Africa past and present. We had
the luxury of attending a school where we were taught to engage in public
issues and social change, because we were all aware of how our country Rwanda
and the region was changing all around us.
|Doreen Rwigamba and her dad who served with others to stop Genocide|
Now I live in the US, and it is very easy for me to forget about the ugly, war ravaged places in the world. It is very easy for me to go through out my day and never once read the news. I am grateful that I still have friends and family, who continue to share stories that are often ignored.
This week I have not been able to avoid the stories on my Facebook feed or the news on my television. I am bewildered and disgusted by watching the stories on the US News. If a nation in the global south had between 60,000 and 80,000 children cross their border fleeing violence the western media would call it a "refugee crisis."(http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/opinion/sunday/a-refugee-crisis-not-an-immigration-crisis.html?referrer=,
|2011 Kigali International Community School Graduates|
How do we show compassion to these children? I do not know what I can do to make a change. I am overwhelmed with questions. How can we provide for these children? How can we welcome them into America? (http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/immigration-border-crisis/some-towns-immigrants-met-aid-instead-anger-n148956, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bethany-anderson/unaccompanied-alien-child_b_5555584.html?utm_content=buffer3f3a1&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer.)
On the news I see plenty of discussion centered on border control, more agents, more guns, and very little discussion on protection of the most innocent and vulnerable. My father reminded me of some African stories. President Kagame and Museveni when they guarded borders would let children cross and protected them from men with guns. Many of the children who are coming to the US have been victims of rape, abuse, their lives have been threatened. Yet in response the most common public response is to say, “Return to your country.” I question this line of deportation thought that encourages children to go back to their abusers; the drug lords and gangs that control their homes.
|Sophia and Doreen Rwigamba|
I fervently ask, “Lord Jesus send us Your hope, provide a way for the most hopeless in our world. As Your people we often strip the dignity away from the most deserving. Remind us that You yourself came as a child. Jesus You fled to Egypt as a refugee. When I cry out in confusion and grief for these children, I am reminded that You are there with them. You have experienced their pain, and You are caring for each child now. Teach me, teach Your church, Your people how to love the way You love and to see the humanity in each child You have created”