Some problems are global problems, and when you scale out problems to the level of the globe, it's hard to keep the fine points of detail in view. There are over 40 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world. These are people who have been forced to flee their home countries (or to flee within their home countries) to escape persecution (either direct and individual, or as part of a "persecuted social group") or the effects of war and other conflict. The UN Refugee Agency estimates that 80 percent of refugees and internally displaced people are women and children. So often a day is all we have time for, but so often a day is all it takes to open our hearts. For the past several years the U.S. State Department has admitted around 80,000 refugees annually into the United States. The home countries of these refugees are distributed throughout the world, and percentages per region are adapted according to need. A number of non-governmental agencies assist in placing these refugees throughout the United States, some for short periods until a safe return home is possible, and many for permanent relocation. These are all big numbers. What's worth thinking about is that upwards of 80,000 times a year someone is moving into a neighborhood who has never been in the United States before. They're figuring out how stuff works. They're learning (often the hard way) which of their local customs will or will not be tolerated in their new community. They're learning new languages and new monetary systems, even new street signs and rules of the road. They've left something awful and landed in the midst of something bewildering. They need good neighbors. I'm privileged to be on the board of a group called Exodus World Service, which in Chicago recruits churches and other groups to welcome refugees to the community, with move-in packets of necessary resources, with visits and meals and playdates, and more generally with enough expressions of kindness and support
to make the refugee's resettlement a little less unsettling. The
Ah Mu Weaves a Story, by Sarah Gilliam. This beautifully illustrated book tells one family's story of their journey from Burma to the United States. Written for children, it inspires resilience and hope while gently introducing the challenges refugees face both at home and in their resettlement. Children will love it; adults may well weep over it. Order it direct from the publisher here.