Sr. Meena Barwa of the Handmaids of Mary was the victim of rape 10 years ago during anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal. At a New Delhi conference on migration, she told her story, which she consented to share with GSR.
Issues surrounding labor migration — such as the rights of migrant workers, high fees on wired remittances, and inconsistent policies across nations — were the focus of a recent three-day conference, "Migrant Workers: An Asian-Pacific Experience." The gathering in New Delhi drew 161 participants, mostly religious, from across Asia.
GSR Today: The Seeking Refuge series took me to Rome and Athens, to see how communities are responding to migration. I spoke to refugee families who taught me about resilience, hope and courage. Sisters and others in the humanitarian field gave me direction as I navigated a tricky and complex subject. These are the lessons I learned.
Casa del Migrante Reynosa, run by four Daughters of Charity in a Mexican town bordering McAllen, Texas, shelters deportees from the U.S. as they figure out what to do next. "When they're deported, they bring with them a very intense pain because they invested in the journey," said Sr. Edith Garrido, a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.
Editorial: In our reporting for our special Seeking Refuge series, we found a new urgency and a new inspiration. The testimonies of refugees illustrate that we cannot look away from the challenge of migration; the work of religious sisters shows us that much is possible.
Honduras ranks as the sixth most unequal country in the world. Drug cartels are common, and workers are subjected to extortion. Women are fleeing Honduras to protect their children from gangs: boys are forced to become foot soldiers while girls are preyed upon against their wills. Now under tougher U.S. policies, gang violence will no longer qualify for asylum claims. And deportees are arriving back in Honduras in massive numbers.
• Also in this series: As resettlement agency in Kansas closes, other doors open
The International Rescue Committee in Garden City, Kansas, is closing down in September, one of the casualties of Trump administration policies to reduce the number of refugees settling in the U.S., echoing a political ethos that first began brewing in Kansas in 2015. More than 22 percent of Garden City's residents are foreign-born, even though Kansas isn't a major primary resettlement destination — but there is ready employment in the meat-packing industry.
• Also in this series: Fitting in without losing cultural roots, Burmese refugees advance in Indiana
The global compacts are documents that are not legally binding but provide a framework for nations to work together. "Even just the idea of international cooperation on the issue of migration was a victory. Now, it needs to be institutionalized," says Sr. Marvie Misolas, representative of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns at the U.N.
America has long been known as a melting pot, but those who work with refugees say that idea misses the point. In a melting pot, the ingredients lose their individuality and become one with the whole. Rather than assimilation, they say, the goal should be integration — to be part of the whole without losing cultural, ethnic and religious identity. The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ in Fort Wayne, Indiana, have helped thousands of Burmese refugees make their way in this midwestern city of 266,000.
• Also in this series: Painful memories, new cultures confront resettled families
Dominican Sr. Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, grew emotional talking about the harrowing stories she heard from immigrants about the life they left behind to seek refuge in the United States.
- Page 1
Like what you're reading? Sign up for GSR e-newsletters!