August 18, 2023

Have you ever held a small child for a very long time? Or carried them, for any amount of time? I have an almost 4-year-old, and it’s no easy feat. We try different methods, depending on the distance we must cover. A few weeks ago, we trekked down a quarter mile pier with her riding piggyback, hands gripped around my throat. Fortunately her 38 lbs. made it feel only slightly like I was being strangled. We made it to our destination, but I was relieved to shuffle her off to her dad for the return trip. 

It’s only partially why I was alarmed when I heard about a refugee family who had traveled by foot to get their sick little girl to a hospital for care. Because carrying kids is hard. Carrying sick kids is even more challenging. But carrying a kid for six miles? In America? In 90+ degree weather? Unimaginable. 

But it happened. It happens

Because sometimes phones don’t work or people don’t answer. And sometimes there’s nothing else you can do… but pick up your child, your very sick child, alongside your spouse and your other two children… and walk. One foot after the other, mile after mile. Even though you made it to America, even though you survived war or persecution. 

Vulnerability has become trendier lately. The type of vulnerability where we share pieces of ourselves, at the risk of what others might think. We’re encouraged to open up, to show emotion, to risk being emotionally hurt. 

But what about the type of vulnerability that no one chooses for themselves? The type that makes you more susceptible to harm or attack? The type that leaves you forced to carry your child for miles to receive medical care. The type where you might find yourself alone in a house, caring for small children (because your husband is at work), unable to shop for your own groceries because you don’t yet know the language, and you don’t know how to drive. And even if you did know how, you’d have to pass a written test in a language you don’t understand, own a car, and then know how to do something called “register” it and also get “insurance” for it. 

Navigating the adjustment to an entirely new way of life involves care, patience, and a lot of vulnerability. 

Our City of Refuge team is wading into the vulnerability with every individual we can, working to break down barriers, advocate, meet needs, provide friendship. Sometimes it’s as simple as a new backpack so a child feels a little less like an outsider on the first day of school. Sometimes it’s making sure we get the call so we can pick up a family before they ever get to the point of walking those 6 long miles. Sometimes it’s making sure they have access to learning English, that they know how to sign up for the bus, that they can get the legal help they need.

If you’ve supported City of Refuge in any capacity in the past, this is the work you are part of. Helping the vulnerable. Showing up, whenever we can. Meeting basic needs. Smiling, as the start of our cross-cultural friendships. 

Thanks for helping us be more to the thousands of vulnerable friends we work with annually. We couldn’t do it without you.

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