How do you express yourself? Do you chat it up with friends and family or the nearest stranger in the parking lot? Do you make daily journal entries, paint or draw pictures? What happens when you’re unable to express yourself? You went on a trip and forgot your journal. No one is returning your texts or accepting your offers for a talk over coffee or tea. You’re in a country where you don’t know the language. How do you feel when you’ve lost your voice? Or, worse, when your voice is silenced?
Our refugee neighbors, though determined and resilient, have suffered enormous loss. As Americans, we often look at them and think of the friends and family they’ve lost. The catastrophic and tragic circumstances that led to the stripping away of home and stability. Those are real and painful losses. But there’s another profound loss that families endure: that of their voice. In a country where everything is written and spoken in English – a language that is truly foreign to many of the people we work with each day – it becomes incredibly challenging to enjoy meaningful interactions with others, to build community, to express thoughts of joy or sorrow outside of your own home, or simply go to the store to buy food for your family. Can you imagine having your voice closed off from the world when you have so much to say?
At City of Refuge, we’re launching a unique fundraising opportunity to get our whole community thinking about sharing our voices and being open to the perspectives and thoughts of others. I’m excited to introduce the first annual City of Refuge Poem-a-thon! This 30-day writing challenge will take place throughout the month of April and is a fun and easy way to support people from refugee backgrounds in our community. We’ll provide daily, optional prompts and you can let the creative juices flow.
We’ve intentionally designed this fundraiser with you in mind. You, the professional poet. You, the one who already journals daily and is looking for another outlet. You, the person who would never consider themselves a writer or creative but likes the idea of a challenge.
You, the one who has wanted to be involved with City of Refuge for a while but couldn’t find the time or the right avenue. You, the elementary/middle/high schooler. You, the one who isn’t quite on board for writing, but would love to be a donor. This is for YOU. All of you.
During the month of March, keep your eyes open for some fun social media posts to get you thinking about why we’re doing this and who it’s for. We’ll share some stories, give some helpful tips and get you primed for the challenge to begin in early April. Let’s use our own voices to uplift and amplify those who, for now, may be voiceless.
How are you feeling? Daunted? Excited? Intrigued? Why not tell someone about it? Or, better yet, just write it down.
“No one else in the wide world, since the dawn of time, has ever seen the world as you do, or can explain it as you can. This is what you have to offer that no one else can.”
― Edith Layton, Author