May 9, 2024

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the vast array of broken things in this world. Even outside my own experiences, my eyes witness conflict, greed, loss- all close-up encounters via a glowing screen held in my hand. And then I scroll on, the overwhelm quickly lost to a baby announcement, or some van-lifer’s vlog. Phones give us access to old friends, strangers, and the world- all within arm’s reach. 

Recently, after observing the relationship between an American couple and a Kenyan family, I’ve been compelled to consider the surprising potential of being within arm’s reach of so many of the needs of the world represented by people on our doorstep. 

As the American woman, I’ll call her “M”, described the beginnings of their newfound friendship, she almost laughed, with a soft smile aimed toward the little Kenyan girl playing with magnet tiles next to her, “I don’t know how it happened exactly, I just asked my Walmart cashier where she was from.” We were all sitting on the ground in the Community Center at City of Refuge, and nearby, the toddler’s mother was getting lessons from M’s husband on the driving simulator. One question, “Where are you from?” had led to a surprising connection between M & her cashier, a woman who had recently come to Columbia from Kenya with her husband and young daughter. An exchange of numbers, and suddenly, access to relationships in the local African community and a support system that could completely transform the family’s adjustment to life in Missouri. M and her husband began filling in how they could, helping the family juggle work schedules with a young child, transportation needs, and arguably most critical, the longing for caring relationships.

Although the details of the full story are intriguing, what my mind kept returning to was the striking simplicity of what noticing had accomplished. M saw a person, asked a question, and took action that is now making a life-altering difference, one family to another. So often, I look at my phone screen and am paralyzed by all that is not within my reach- war there, disaster here, suffering I have no control over. Admittedly, I usually choose to do nothing because it all seems too big for me- and it is too big! You and I won’t fix the world. But, we can notice the people in our neighborhood, at the grocery store, or in line at the coffee shop, and that can absolutely change our city.

So I’m saying this to you as much as I’m saying it to me: Look up, look around. Ask a question. The world is within arm’s reach. Who is within your reach?

Brita Sjogren

Volunteer & Intern Coordinator

City of Refuge is happy to present our first ever SUMMER MARKET in celebration of World Refugee Day! Our Summer Market is being held on June 22nd and will feature refugee and local artisans, food for purchase, activities for kids, and multi-cultural entertainment. Click below if you are interested in being a vendor or volunteering, and for event updates. We can’t wait to see you there! 🌎🧡

Join us on September 23, 2024 at Columbia Country Club for our 9th Annual Golf Tournament! Spend the day golfing with friends while also supporting local refugees in Columbia, MO.Early Registration is now open! Teams that register before July 1st will receive 10% off of their registration fee.

Thank you for your support!

Back to Blogs

The Evolution of Hope

No Longer a Dream

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *