Friday, May 15, 2015

Ottawa Travelogue: Matthew House.

I slept in very deeply this morning. Like until eleven. To be fair, I'm two hours ahead of myself, so it was really only nine. Kailee and I agreed that I wouldn't go to work with her in the morning, so I just stayed in bed forever and didn't feel even a little bad about it.

I spent the day at Matthew House. Let me explain to you the glory of what takes place at Matthew House. Say you wake up, every day, in a country in which you are not safe, and can likely never become safe. Say you want to leave that country. How are you going leave? Do you have the money to leave? Where will you go when you leave? To whom will you go to when you leave? Now say you develop a plan that answers all or most of these questions. You get your papers, you get on the plane, you fly to the country you now understand to be safe, and you hope to God on high you don't get sent home. Now say you're lucky enough to speak the language in the country where you've landed. You ask around. Where do you go? You might know enough to know that there are people essentially waiting to help you wade through the process of immigration. But do you know that there is a non-govermental organization that will house and feed you as you go through that process? Well you do now. It's called Matthew House.

Today I met people from Somalia, Haitii, and the Congo. I watched as Kailee encouraged people through their first meetings with their lawyers. I listened to a man tell me how hard he is going to try to become a Canadian citizen and how much he would like to study psychology. I saw two women arrive at the house, seeking asylum, overwhelmed by their (incredibly) recent arrival in Canada, and their hope for what might come next.

In case you're wondering, or you just don't know, the legal definition of a refugee is someone who has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership to a particular social group or dpolitical opinion, and having left the country of their nationality is unable and unwilling avail their self to the protection of their country. Entering into the process of becoming a refugee is not a light or easy decision. It is a committment.

Nothing affirms for me the ease of my political and governmental situation more than spending time with refugees, who despite the unsettled nature of their situation and the length of their legal process are hopeful beyond hope, and grateful beyond grate. . .

Stay tuned for day two.

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