But even that reality seems to come crashing down when their buses fail to show up 25% of the time, or when being allowed to begin school is delayed two weeks from the day they register. They want to stand up for their children, but they can’t. Who is looking out for them?
Cultural misunderstandings often cause trouble, and sometimes it can get ugly.
“He was my hitting daughter, so I slapped his face.” One mother is now dealing with charges being pressed against her, because she stepped in to protect her young daughter from the neighborhood bully. She must now face the local court who sees her as a child abuser. In her mind, there was no choice but to step in. She did what she knew.
“I couldn’t read the bathroom sign, and I guessed. I guessed wrong.” Sharif is on suspension from work for using the women’s bathroom. Not only is he dealing with the public humiliation of being pinned a pervert, he is also missing several days of work he needs to pay his rent.
“I’m pregnant,” her eyes lit up as she shared her news.
“What?!” I asked. “I will have an American baby,” she said as her giant smile wrapped around her face.
After years of processing paperwork, interviews, and being bounced from place to place, she was welcoming her baby into its new home…America.
They are fighters…every single one of them. It would be impossible to accomplish the tasks of the journey required, without an incredible amount of courage. But it is hard. Every one of them tells us how difficult it is to be here…if not with their words, then with their eyes.
We see it in the fear on their faces as they scan the crowd at the airport looking for us to meet them.
We see it as we say goodbye, closing the front door, leaving them alone in their new house, hoping the next day someone will return as promised.
They grow weary…tired from not ever knowing where they are going, what is being said, when they will gain control of their own lives again.
They are strong, but they still human. Like the rest of us, they want a chance to prove themselves, to start again. When others around them couldn’t, they got out. They want our respect, our trust, our support. We should be honored to be on this side of their journey, offering them hope…a new chance at life.