The subject of Refugee Resettlement generates many stories–daily stories–about the little joys refugees experience in our wonderful America. Every one of those stories highlight some caring and enlightened American who gives of him or herself by purchasing or donating some material item to make life easy. This story today in the Lincoln Star about Burmese Karen arriving in Nebraska caught my eye.
Sara Pipher had been to the camps in Thailand and was moved to collect $300 from friends and family to buy a double bed for a soon to arrive refugee family, something that would make any of us feel all warm and fuzzy. I don’t mean to diminish the gift, but as the Burmese Karen people are scattered like the four winds across the United States, can she give them something they had together?
Pipher said she was impressed by the amazing closeness among friends and families in the camps.
. . .
And in the Karen culture there is a real emphasis on the extended family and on respect for elders and embracing the wisdom of the elder generation, Pipher said.
There won’t be an extended family in America. I wonder at the wisdom of our do-good policies that cause us to rush around the world rescuing people whenever there is strife or a civil war in some region.
The fact that the refugees are arriving in Lincoln brought to mind our Civil War. Imagine if tens of thousands of the brightest Northerners and Southerners had just been wisked off to Europe never to return, would America, as a re-united nation, have been diminished. I think so.
Maybe it’s our own material need for instant comfort, for things to be easy, that makes us rush in wishing to save people. Fortunately, some people still have common sense, dignity, and a spirit and desire to achieve their destiny on the continent of their birth. In Africa the Liberians are returning home under banners that proclaim:
LIBERIA CAN ONLY BE BUILT BY LIBERIANS THEMSELVES
UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL. ITS TIME TO COME BACK HOME TO REBUILD OUR MOTHERLAND LIBERIA
According to an article in AllAfrica.com on July 24th, over 100,000 refugees are headed home.
The lady from NRC (Norwegian Refugee Council) is wearing a T-shirt with the map of Liberia on the front, and the words Theres No Place Like Home.
In Rwanda they are returning home too. http://allafrica.com/stories/200707300120.html
But sadly, in Nepal, the Bhutanese may never return home because the US has agreed to resettle 60,000 refugees. http://www.nepalnews.com/archive/2007/jul/jul27/news13.php
Writing in the Weekly Telegraph of Nepal, July 31, 2007 (tomorrow!) Niraj Ayal suggests it would be better to stay together in Nepal with the hope of one day going home:
Better let them stay here; Let them make their homes here! Let us live together with our brothers and sisters!; Let them forget Bhutan, make our future together and one day the easterly wind might bring the smell of their soil here.