Volunteer speaks out for PAIR students and families:
"They are PEOPLE."
Kate volunteered in PAIR's summer program in 2011 and in a PAIR after-school program for refugee middle school students for a year and a half prior to the birth of her first child. She reflects upon her former students and their families in the wake of the recent tragedies across the world. This is Kate's story.
They are not refugees. They are PEOPLE who have refugee status in our country because their families have faced the worst that humanity has to offer. Exile? Religious persecution? Genocide? Yes. Yes. Yes.
It's been four years since I spent Monday afternoons volunteering with kids from refugee families, and their stories are often on my mind. They are not my stories to share, but I still think of them often. Like when I can drive down the street to have my son vaccinated without walking for hours in broken shoes to access medical care. Like when I get to attend mass on Sundays and know that I will not be forced to leave my family and country for it (or be blown up). Like when I have the privilege to give birth in a modern hospital with all the medical advances the world has to offer and not in a camp. I would have died giving birth to my son anywhere but the U.S.
It's not like America is so great for them. These kids often get dumped into poor performing schools without the resources to meet their needs, experience gang violence, and have parents who cannot advocate for them because of language barriers. But their families still try to come here, because these problems, some of America's worst, are small beans compared to the lives they have lived.
These PEOPLE are our future friends, co-workers, parishioners, and loved ones.