In Need of Refuge
At a very young age I returned home from swimming at my cousins house to find a strange looking family of five staring back at me. My parents informed me and my four siblings that we were going to share our home and bedrooms with these strangers, as they proceeded to introduce us to the refugee family from Laos.
As an innocent child I was thrilled to provide my instantly acquired new friends with a personal walking tour of our home, and bicycle tour of the neighborhood. I realize now how scary the experience must have been for them as they were halfway around the world from everything they had ever known, unable to communicate their needs. They had no internet to connect to, iPhone to phone a friend or Skype to connect to family as they were literally trying to survive.
In a moment’s notice my parents took on the demands of a household of ten people that were dependent upon them for survival. My parents volunteered several more times to take in families of refugees, working with them to find jobs, teach them a new way of life and most importantly connect them to a larger community network of support. Over the years my parents have opened up their home to friends and family who have needed refuge from life.
Currently my parents volunteer their precious time at the state prison providing refuge to mothers, wives, and daughters who are incarcerated. It has become increasingly difficult to label these women simply as inmates or prisoners because my parents have once again blessed my life with their humanity. My parents provide context to the lives of these women. They are no longer a faceless and nameless thing or problem, they are people just like me, people who have made mistakes, people whose life journey has been difficult; people in need of refuge.
As an adult I have taken refuge from the personal storms of my life. My parents and friends have graciously opened their doors and provided me with a safe place to heal from my wounds as I prepared to venture back out into the world and try again. I don’t know where I would be without the kindness and generosity of my support network; family and friends who invited me to come in out of the storm.
Aren’t we all refugees seeking refuge; a condition of being safe and sheltered from the pursuit of danger or trouble? Given the circumstances of the world today we are faced with a difficult choice to open up our homes and families; our country and lives to refugees.
I am grateful to my parents, for opening their home and family to those seeking and in need of refuge. I am grateful to family, friends and relationships that have provided me with a safe haven to go out and explore abundantly this world of opportunity. To this day my parents value the connection and phone calls of gratitude they receive from their extended Laotian family. I am forever indebted for the generosity that I have received as people have opened their doors, lives and families creating a space for lifelong connections and a world of greater humanity.