Why does Tenth work with refugees? Read on and learn about the importance of caring for the foreigner in our midst. The following is a story from Mim Wickett, Tenth's Refugee Support Team Co-ordinator. Names of refugees have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
Saturday afternoon, and I receive a phone call from Sophie, one of our Tenth-supported refugees. Through her connections she’s heard about a mother with 3 young children who crossed the border earlier that morning, claiming asylum on arrival. They’ve gone through security checks and a distant relative has dropped them off at a motel. She’s spent all the money she has on 2 nights’ accommodation, and her relative is unable to provide any further assistance. He’s now gone.
Sophie and I fill up the car with donations I have on hand—a stroller, coats and hats, a few toys, blankets, and boots. On the way, we pick up groceries and diapers.
Rebecca is scared to open the door when we arrive. The baby is crying, and the 2 older children watch us closely, very serious and a little defensive. All they have with them are the clothes they are wearing (inadequate for Vancouver weather), a diaper bag, and some food they managed to buy at a nearby gas station.
There are smiles all around when we bring in the double stroller. Rebecca carried the baby while walking the irregular border crossing route, trying to keep an eye on her energetic young kids at the same time. She’s exhausted. The toys are a big hit—Rebecca says it’s the first time all day that the preschooler has stopped crying. Her oldest child eventually falls asleep, a ball clutched tightly in his hands.
This is a typical scenario for the Tenth refugee support team, and the next steps are familiar.
The church pays to extend their stay at the motel, in order to gain some time to look for next-step accommodation. We send out the word to our network. Kristin—another Tenth Refugee Support member—comes and spends a day with them, organizing a consultation with a lawyer, delivering car seats, advocating for settlement support.
The best lead comes from one of our most dedicated volunteers, Mark, a refugee himself. He’s secured temporary housing at a women’s shelter, and Rebecca can stay there safely for a few months.
3 days after we meet, Rebecca has packed up everything she owns and is on her way. She doesn’t have much yet, but she’s learned that she has friends.
“I didn’t believe you when you told me the church would help me,” Rebecca confides in Sophie later on. “Why would they help someone from a different religion? Now I know that you were right.”
Sophie just laughs. Rebecca is the sixth refugee claimant she’s brought to the church for help in as many months. She’s never had a moment of doubt.