I spent my afternoon and evening tagging along with a friend as she visited a safehouse for 30 asylum seekers (people who have left their country due to religious persecution and are seeking refugee status with the UN).
I left gasping for words, barely able to formulate a sentence to my friend.
Many of these people I have met. Most of their stories are familiar to me from the involvement of my friends. Yet tears rolled down my cheeks several times throughout the evening.
Laina* relayed her story to me, telling of police raids and an infant who wouldn’t eat for three days, sensing her parent’s fear.
“We lost everything when we left our country. Our jobs. Our clinics [she was a nurse, her husband a doctor]. Our home. Our luggage. Our money. Our lives. Our children’s health. And finally our blood relatives. Sometimes I hoped to die.”
I can promise nothing. “You have your life and your children’s lives” falls hollow when I fussed over not getting the job offer I wanted a while ago, or being annoyed that my taxi driver wanted to rip me off, or that I complained that my sisters didn’t respond to my text message at my instantaneous convenience.
“Things will get better.” I can’t say that. I don’t have the ability to help them out of this situation. Things SHOULD get better. Unless there is a police raid as they wait for passports to be returned with visas. Or the UN is slow. Or someone else dies back home.
“I am sorry that this happened to you. Thank you for telling me your story. I will pray. I am so sorry.”
That is all I could say. All I will say, as I continue to internally weep.
*name changed to protect her identity