In the blink of any eye, life can change for better or worse; This is one reason refugee stories are so close to my heart.
Growing up in Kenya and Swaziland, I habitually begin my mornings with the British Broadcasting Company. My alarm clock rings, immediately followed by the iconic tones of BBC news, and a faithful announcer explains what’s happened across the globe while I’ve slept. Sometimes it’s stories about faraway places, Syria, Myanmar, Congo. When you grow up nomadically, especially in boarding school, those places represent loved ones scattered to the wind, and those brief announcements tune my heart to the world.
On the BBC this morning, Chad announced its president was killed during an armed incursion with rebel forces. President Deby was in power for over 30 years. Chad borders Libya, the Darfur region of Sudan, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon. CNN “fears that Deby’s death threatens the stability of the region.” Today our hearts and prayers are with all the people of Chad and the entire region, including our extended family, friends, and my sister-in-law who works for the US Embassy in Chad. Saturday, the US Embassy advised the immediate exit of all non-essential personnel due to reports of armed factions heading toward the capital city of N’Djamena.
Last night when we were praying for Chad and our beloved Auntie, my little boy wanted to know what was wrong? How do you find the words to explain these things to a second-grader?
Distracted this afternoon I finished, When Stars Are Scattered, a graphic novel written by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. Omar shares his experience as a young boy separated from his parents forced to flee Somalia and grow up in Dadaab refugee camp with his disabled brother before moving to America. It’s a tender telling of what it was like to grow up in the in-between, between families, homes, countries.
Honestly, my soft-hearted eight-year-old may struggle with the realities of the story, but the creators have done a brilliant job, telling it with sensitivity and joy. Today, I was glued to the drawing of a thriving, developed Mogadishu as it was before civil war descended in 1991.
To all of the people waking up in the unknown today, I grieve with you. I am thankful for the poets, the painters, the storytellers. The passionate souls who find words for the unimaginable and carve out stories of hope to soothe anxious hearts.
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