World Refugee Day
World Refugee Day is a UN-appointed day that aims to honour the courage and determination of those who have been forced to abandon their homes and flee persecution and conflict. As a church, we recognize World Refugee Sunday in our June 28 online service. At Tenth, we walk alongside dozens of refugees who have left the turmoil of their home countries to live in peace in Canada.
In the meantime, here is a story from one of our newest newcomers to Canada.
Packing for travel was not as exciting this time, compared to my last short trips. I was worried about how much my life would change afterwards. The day I became sure that there was no life for me in my country, I decided to leave.
Leaving my family was the hardest decision I have ever made. My goodbye with my parents was something I had never thought about before. As I hugged my old father, he silently expressed his concern that he might never see and hug me again. I apologized to my mom with a shaking voice and eyes full of tears. If I ever hurt her, I was not sure if I would have the chance to say sorry to her again.
I left home and flew to the USA, holding so much stress and concern. The thought of crossing the US border was overwhelming, but I had no other choice. I spent 14 years of my life as a refugee in an Asian country. I have many memories of going to sleep hungry for days on end. I had no good clothes to wear and no toys to play with. We were treated differently, with no access to health care and social support. These memories of my time as a refugee increased my worries when I was thinking of coming to Canada. Furthermore, I heard much about shelters from friends in Canada and their experiences when they arrived as refugees. They had to leave and not stay in the shelter during the day, as per the policy of shelters. They were supposed to stay at nights there only. They were put with people who were different from them.
The day I crossed the US-Canada border, thanks to the help of a friend who lived in British Columbia and had contact with Journey Home and Tenth Church, I was able to move to a well-furnished house of one of the Church members. It was unbelievable to me. They provided me with all the help and resources I needed, from buying groceries, clothes, a refugee support guide, and even helping me take care of my mental and social health.
As well as their warm welcome, they kept connecting me with other members from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions. I am someone from a different religion and different culture, but each of the Journey Home members makes sure to follow and respect my culture. They accept me for who I am and they are helping many other refugees like me. I have learned from them that humanity has no language and no religion. As well as providing me with my basic needs, Journey Home and Tenth Church are treating me as a friend by connecting me to other people and inviting me to their events and entertainment programs. I never imagined being supported this much. I want to thank Tenth Church and Journey Home for helping me and others like me during this hard journey. I would suggest to others like me to ask these organizations to be part of your refugee journey.
To learn more about Tenth's journey with refugees, check out tenth.ca/refugee