Recently an acquaintance of mine back in the USA posted some of the past election bumper stickers for a certain political official — apparently an official who wanted to grant asylum to some refugees — with the caption, "Anyone with one of THESE on their car gets a Syrian refugee to take care of!"
I don’t get into electoral politics much on this blog, and I’m not naming or defending the official in question. Still, I felt I ought to respond. I wrote back:
Actually, I’m already volunteering with Syrian refugees — I’ve been asking everyone in our church to donate their old clothes and toys, and the refugees are quite grateful for them — they’ve been homeless and on the run from ISIS for two years, so they’ve reached rural Ireland with nothing but the clothes on their back.
The refugees I’ve met have been fantastic, and their kids are adorable. I brought up the possibility of having some of them stay at our house, but the Irish government is wisely putting them up in a motel that went belly-up during the crash
So, way ahead of you.
Several of us from the area volunteered to spend time making the acquaintance of the refugees, and help them get used to their new country and culture; it’s not much, but it’s a start. This week, in the village the refugees are staying in, the local school-children put on a show for them — Irish dancing and singing, and the refugees demonstrated their own music and moves. Everyone had a chance to mingle, kids played together, and we had a great time.
I won’t say any more about it for now, as we agreed to give the refugees privacy; also for that reason, I’m not showing any photos. I don’t show photos of people’s faces very often on this blog anyway, wary of putting people online without their permission. I will, though, enclose a photo of the kids doing Irish dancing for the crowd, partly because their faces are blurred.
This blog doesn’t usually deal with issues like this, but I expect to see more such refugee situations in the coming decades, and we’d better get used to it now. So far this is one of the greatest human catastrophes since World War II — six million people have been forced to flee for their lives. Most countries here have agreed to take in some refugees, but more are coming to our shores every day, and many mornings bring new reports of the bodies of drowned children washed up in the Mediterranean.
These are people who found a tiny and overcrowded raft, floating on the open ocean, safer than their homes. See what you can do where you live — you probably can’t do much, but you might be able to do a little.