fence flowersSarafeen* first contacted AGC RSI in October 2017. Their family arrived in Bangkok in September 2012, but by the time she contacted us, she was caring for her teenaged children alone. Her husband was in the Immigration Detention Centre ... again. Farrukh had previously been arrested for overstaying his visa and incarcerated for 18 months before being released in May 2015. In May 2016 he was arrested again. His visa was still expired and he was not willing to return with his family to their native Pakistan. Two years after this essay was written, in April 2021 he was released again, but his months incarcerated have taken a toll.

I have been emailing with Sarafeen semi-regularly since that first contact 3 and a half years ago. I have long admired her resilience, strength of character and love for Jesus.

Two years ago, her daughter Maria wrote to tell me she had written an essay that had been published in an American on-line magazine. I was certain you would want to hear her words.

DRCmapI have often wondered what it would be like to be forced from my home - not just my house, but my city ... my province ... my country. To have to leave, not because I want to, but because there is NO. OTHER. OPTION. 

When it comes times to flee, how does one get from Democratic Republic of Congo to Hong Kong? Is that intentional, or does it "just happen" as seemingly insignificant choices are made until eventually one finds themselves 10,000km from where they began. 

And now, life in a new country ... a new language, a new culture, new people, no family. Where does one start? To find housing? To find work? Is it even possible to work as an asylum seeker? This is not a new home; this is just a place to stop-over. Because 98% of refugee claimants are refused. So where does one begin? How does one live?

Haitian refugees at Quebec borderIn recent weeks, the number of new asylum seekers, mainly from Haiti, crossing the US border into Quebec has risen dramatically. On Friday, August 11, as many as 1,200 people were waiting to file refugee claims in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec.

UNHCR Representative Jean-Nicolas Beuze was interviewed on CTV News to address the situation. Watch the 4 minute video below to find out: why so many asylum seekers are heading to Quebec, why they are leaving the US, if there is any substance to the fear that the province of Quebec will be overloaded by the sheer number of refugees, and what determines if an asylum seeker can stay in Canada.

Save the Children has produced these 2 excellent videos showing, through a number of one second vignettes, what war does to children.

Psychologist Arthur Aron said that four minutes of eye contact brings people closer to each other better than everything else. In this video Amnesty International experiments with that idea by pairing up Europeans and refugees who have never met before.

Unfortunately many people draw a direct connection between accepting Syrian refugees and welcoming terrorists - some going so far as to state that receiving refugees is the cause of terror attacks in the receiving countries.

This belief defies logic because refugees are fleeing the same terror that has already been done in their country. If an arsonist burns down an apartment building and it's residents begin to look for somewhere safe to live, who would deny them help because "everybody from that building is an arsonist and all they want to do is burn all our apartment buildings down too"?

dadaab camp kenyaDadaab, Kenya, is an area of 5 refugee camps that was home to 329,811 people as of October 2015. Laura Secorun Palet has written an excellent article on this refugee camp that has become a city - a reminder to us all that the worldwide refugee crisis extends far beyond the current Syrian conflict.  

You can read her article here.

The garbage dump in Lesbos contains a powerful symbol of the number of refugees risking their lives by sea.

When the unlikeliest of people are helping others it's an opportunity for self-reflection by those who should be the likeliest. Regardless of your politics and prejudice, "none of that matters here on the beach."

refugees one third childrenThe UN now reports that children now make up over a third of the people making the perilous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece. You can read more about this at: www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/03/un-one-third-refugees-sailing-europe-children


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