Today is World Refugee Day. We’re celebrating the strength and courage of refugees everywhere, and acknowledging that every single displaced person in the world today has a unique story.
António Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, says it best: “While every refugee’s story is different and their anguish personal, they all share a common thread of uncommon courage – the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their shattered lives.”
“I came to learn. I want to study,” says Elisa, a young refugee from South Sudan. The violent conflict there has made life very unsafe, making it nearly impossible for schools to run as they should, and for students to attend regularly. Elisa has come to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, where Lutherans are supporting education for youth like her. This passionate young lady hopes to continue her schooling here. She eventually wants to be a doctor so that she can help her people back home in South Sudan. It is her hope that some day, all children will go to school. “If you have an education, you can help someone.”
Rakan, his wife and two young daughters have survived threats many of us can’t even imagine. They lived in Homs, Syria, until bombings forced them to leave their neighbourhood. The bombs weren’t the only threat. “We were afraid of kidnapping. The government was checking houses for insurgents… Many of the people we know were arrested. We hoped to escape.” They made the dangerous trip to Jordan and now live in a converted storage unit. Rakan tried to look for work, but was reported to the police because refugees are forbidden by law to take jobs. His family was chosen to receive renovations to their shelter through a CLWR project to help Syrian refugees. A ventilation fan and a bathroom door seem like simple things, but they have helped in making Rakan’s makeshift home more liveable. “We are grateful for the help, thanks be to God.”
Mon Leu Chol
Mon Leu Chol, her husband and their four children were forced to flee violence near their home in Duk County, South Sudan. “It was a great place. At home we had a big garden and I would cultivate vegetables, groundnuts and maize. It was a good life. If there was no enemy, we could go back there. If there was peace.” They are making do as best they can. They built a makeshift shelter from building scraps they’ve scavenged, and a household package with a new mosquito net, plastic sheeting, cooking pots and other essential items from NGOs including the Lutheran World Federation will help. Mon Leu Chol was about eight months pregnant when she was interviewed. “I need food, shelter and blankets…so that the baby will have a good start in life.” She wanted to give birth in a hospital but they needed money to do so. “Perhaps we will find money. There is still time.”