In God Grew Tired of Us, John Bul Dau describes his traumatic journey as a Lost Boy of Sudan. As I am reading this book, I cannot stop thinking about the current plight of Syrian refugees. In Dau’s preparatory class to get him ready to come to America he said he was filled with hope by the introduction in a book titled Welcome to the United States: A Guidebook for Refugees, given to him by his teachers. “In part it said ‘As a refugee, you may have lost everything, but in the United States, you are offered a chance to start over and build your life…You bring the gifts of your special talents, your background and culture, and your courage.’”
I cannot imagine how scary it was for Dau when he first moved to the U.S. and I certainly cannot imagine what it must have been like for Dau to leave his village and walk hundreds of miles through swamps and deserts watching people around him die from gunfire, disease, animal attacks, and starvation. And I cannot imagine what those in Syria and other Middle Eastern and north African countries are going through either. I find it terribly disheartening that the United States has done so little to help these displaced people. According to Amnesty International,
“Dozens of hateful anti-refugee bills have been introduced in Congress—and dangerous anti-refugee rhetoric is getting louder than ever. There are 60 million refugee and displaced persons. All countries have an obligation to help, but most rich countries have left poorer, mainly Middle Eastern, African, and South Asian countries to host 86% of the global refugee population.
Regarding Syria specifically, 95% of Syrian refugees are hosted in just 5 countries. I don’t claim to be a strong social activist but I feel and hear a calling to get more involved. How can I just sit and watch what is going in the world in the luxury of my nice home, in my nice neighborhood, in my nice town that’s in my nice country and do nothing except teach about it? How can I teach about it and not do more. Sounds almost hypocritical. Things may look nice on the outside but on the inside I see many frightened citizens and government leaders who have not done enough. I don’t believe in just pointing fingers because if I’m not part of the problem there is no solution.
So what have I done? So far I have done little except to call and email Senators Perdue and Isakson to urge them to open our doors to resettle refugees in the United States. My goal is more and I will blog about my journey as I go.