Tuesday, December 3, 2013

On the far left of our group photo is Holly. Currently she is studying in Jackson, Mississippi to eventually teach English. She is a member of Northminster Baptist in Jackson. For this semester though, she has taken the semester to work at Refuge and Hope through CBF's Student.GO program, which we support through our giving to the CBF. 

Here is a post from Holly from the Refuge and Hope blog:

Refugee Realities

Hello! My name is Holly and I’ve been interning at Refuge and Hope through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s student program, Student.Go for the last three months. My time in Kampala has been so amazing and I only hope I’ve given back to these students half as much as they’ve given me. This is a post I originally wrote for my personal blog about a month ago. Since then my relationship with my students has only deepened and I feel even more blessed to work with these students every day.

Today I had a student tell me some of their story. I’ve heard a lot of their stories from colleagues. I know the life that some students go home to. I know that a beautiful, sweet family we just had join our center owns only one outfit each and eats only one meal a day. I have heard of how they’ve seen their father killed and their mother raped and now they are seriously traumatized. It breaks my heart when they greet me with a hug and smile every morning. I know part of their story, but I know it because my boss told me.

But today a few students stayed to ask a question after class. All were from the same war-torn country. One student, quite out of the blue, told me he wants to leave Uganda, but had to flee his country without any documentation so does not think it is possible. He confided that he wants to leave because he is scared that someone from his home country will come to Kampala and kill him, probably in his sleep.

“There are people here that can do that” he said.

His friend now spoke up and said “I will die in my country. This I will do. If I have to go, I will go. But I do not want to go here. I do not want to die away from my country. I have had family die there, you know.”

His friend chimed in “You know that in my country, they have killed 800 people.”

The other patted his back and said “Many more than 800 have been killed, my friend.”

They continued on to say that they have done things that they had to ask God for forgiveness for, things they are “not happy” they did.

All I could say was that we do things to survive. I told them our past is our past but you are still good, and loved, by us and by God. I told them that sometimes people do what they have to do, even if they are not proud of it.

But really I wanted to go sob in the bathroom. I felt sick seeing the stress and fear in their eyes from the legitimate thought that tonight they might be murdered. I just wanted to hug them and cry for them. These students laugh, they participate and they ask questions. Can you imagine trying to learn another language when you believe you might be killed at any moment? Even if this is an irrational fear, it is one he believes fully.

The thing is, this is not rare at the center. Most of my students have dark pasts. I often get so frustrated; I’ve already had a hard week with students just not getting it no matter what I do. Some of them look so lost when I’m teaching sometimes and it really upsets me. But I have to tell myself, these are not your average students. If anything, these are students that can’t go home. They are separated from their families, some maybe forever. It’s the reality of this place.

I’m so blessed to get to know them and love them; to get to influence them. I get a chance to make their day a little bit better. Maybe I won’t teach them all the best English they could know, but maybe they’ll all laugh in my class. Then, if only for a tiny second, they might forget that stress or the pain they face every day. Or they’ll talk with me because they realize that somebody cares. I want them to learn English, but I want them to know their value, too, because their value has been stolen from them, in some way, at some point. I hope I’m doing this. I’m just so thankful for this opportunity to try.


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