Written by Katey Humphries, Exodus Employment and Human Trafficking Case Manager
The door swings wide, and I am greeted with open arms and a brilliant smile. Mamma K, an older Syrian woman, pulls me in close for a tight hug and customary kisses on each cheek. She shuffles me inside, and we exchange greetings, quickly exhausting her English and my Arabic.
Her husband and two adult children join us, and we sit in a circle on the floor, eating and laughing. I think they are laughing at me as I struggle to extinguish the fire on my tongue. M, Mamma K’s daughter, makes spaghetti so spicy that I drink three bottles of water and have tears streaming from my eyes. They INSIST that I stay for tea and cookies and dinner and after-dinner-tea-and-cookies - and let’s face it, I could never tell Mamma K no.
I stay with them for hours, enjoying their company despite few words being spoken. For me, it’s simple, I could never fear them; for in them, I see my own family.
It’s experiences like this one that makes me realize that few things are as humbling as welcoming refugees.
When they take their first steps on Indiana soil, a look of exhaustion and simultaneous relief is present in their eyes. It weighs on you.
These people have just left behind everything familiar to come a place they must now call “home”. They come with their lives packed tightly in the allotted two suitcases - if they had enough belongings to fill two suitcases in the first place.
Some are fortunate to come with their family members. For others, it is a solo journey - separated for an unknown amount of time from parents, spouses, children. All of them trusting you - trusting that you will guide them through this process, that you have their best interests at heart, that you will not let them fail.
And yet, they are the heroes in this story. They are the ones who had the strength, courage, and determination to do the unimaginable.
We are just fortunate that we get to welcome such incredible people to our beautiful city.
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