I survived this. The unimaginable. I will show you. I will tell you. If I could bear it, can you bear the telling of it? It was bad. And people need to know. Someone needs to know. What happened to me. How helpless we were. What happened to us. I will tell you. ~
Refugees and immigrants are presented on the nightly news in group pictures. They are presented as a collective. But have you ever met one? Have you talked to someone who had to flee their home? Have you looked in their eyes as they looked back at you with the hope that you will understand? With the hope that you will acknowledge what they have been through because the telling is a part of the healing? And they need to heal. Telling stories of darkness help return us to the light. So given the chance, listen.
I have been told ~ We were hiding in the forest, and we had to be very quiet. My children. I had a baby. I had to give the baby opium. She had to be quiet. We were hiding. She died.
I have been told ~ My grandmother was run over by a motorcycle. A soldier on a motorcycle. She died. There was nothing we could do.
And this ~ We had to work in the rice paddies. All day. I was pregnant. I had the baby in the toilet. I was yelling and yelling for help.
And this ~ Here is a video they sent me. I want you to watch it so you see what happened. You can see my country and the dead people. I saw some soldiers put a head in a sack and play soccer with it. (As told to me by a 10 year old boy.)
This too ~ It was worse than this! (Watching “The Killing Fields” with a group of Cambodians.) It was so much worse than this.
All of these people survived tragedy. And their telling of it is part of the survival. This is what happened to me and to mine. Can I still be okay? Will you understand? When we listen, we take a very small piece of the burden from survivor’s shoulders, and we help them begin to heal….to begin to come out of the darkness and to see the light. Seeing a human face on suffering extends our humanity, extends our compassion. I see you. You matter. Your story matters.