What it means to care….

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Dear friends of Refuge, 

Thank you for helping us raise a total of $30,000 in ten days!! And thanks to our very special donor who TRIPLE matched all gifts – you know who you are ; )

We’ve already begun the long process of refurbishing our trucks, carts, and espresso machines, enabling us to grow our catering operation and the training that goes along with it.

Sometimes I have to remind myself why our coffee-flavored, photogenic, dance-party-ish nonprofit is impactful, frothy and bright as it often appears to the outside world. Last week, as I was thinking about how to present the tenuous yet beautiful thread connecting the worldwide refugee crisis and our need to re-do our happy red trucks, my friend and colleague Leon Shombana came to me with news from near his neighborhood in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was horrific news, and yet not widely reported in part because of other horrific news in our world. As I listened to Leon talk about it, I thought of the question people often ask me, “How do you get people to care about refugees?”

I don’t have an answer to that question, because I cannot separate the refugee crisis from my friendship with Leon and others. Somewhere buried in these relationships of care (our refugee staff, trainees, and neighbors care for me more exquisitely than I care for them) is how I find my own reason to care. But it is impossible to coerce others to care.

There are many ways to move toward people in pain. It maystart with caring enough to learn or post or use your voice. It may come toincluded giving of your time and money. Moving close ideally leads to movementinto relationships that become mutually transformational.

For all of you who gave to our campaign, you can restassured that we are turning your dollars into care as we refurbish our cateringfleet and so that we can take the simple, relational, sometimes hard and oftendelightful kind of care we practice at Refuge on the road.

More on the Subject 

By now you know I process the meaning of things with poetry. Here’s a little of that processing: 

No One Heart is Big Enough

Someone once asked,
how do you get people
to care about refugees?
The only way I
know to answer
is that you don’t.

I don’t know a human
whose heart
is big enough to care
for 36 million humans,
for newly erupting wars
in Ukraine or Gaza
or ongoing wars
in Congo or Myanmar,
for the hunger,
the danger,
the trauma
of millions.
Mine isn’t.

And then Leon shows me
photos of a refugee camp
in DRC that was bombed
last week.
He sends a video of
a young man gently
removing a swaddled child
from the back of his
murdered mother.
He sends color photo
after color photo.
He needs to do this,
and, as much as I flinch,
I need to care
by looking and by listening.
He tells me the history
of war between Rwanda
and Congo, between
tribes whose names
I already can’t remember,
and another tribe,
the Hutus, who fled
to his home country
for protection
only to be sought
across borders
and shot down there.

I strikes me that if I didn’t know Leon,
I might miss knowing any of this,
much less caring about it.
I might miss knowing the
complexities and, yes,
the complicities
of bloodshed that
spatters from far away
and stains my own shoes.

I’ve heard that hubris
says, This is what
is wrong,
and here’s how I will fix it.
Humility says, rather,
How can I help?

Knowing what is wrong
isn’t caring.
Fixing it even
isn’t caring.
Asking how to help
may not be caring,
unless the necessary how
seeks some semblance
of an answer,
however feeble.
It all feels so helpless,
and yet as I listen
to Leon’s worries
about his mother
who was, for a time,
unreachable in
the newest crisis,
and as I open the
newest photos,
I care.

But I still don’t know how to
make people care,
and I’m wary of anyone
who says they know.
if I could reframe
the question, it would be:
How can I care for refugees?

Hoping to ask the right questions with you, 


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