Reflect about one refugee’s practice of the Christian mandate to humble service.
I do not know what nationality to give myself: Rwandese, Ugandan or Kenyan. I am a refugee by virtue of the fact that my mother fled from Rwanda in the late 1960’s with her parents when she was a teenager. They took refuge in Uganda.
Civil war in Uganda forced my mother to flee to Kenya. In Kenya my mother benefited from a scholarship to study home economics, specializing in tailoring. She later received a loan from JRS to buy a sewing machine and set up her own business. To this day she sells her handiwork in the JRS Mikono craft shop in Nairobi.
Sometimes I am called to help in the Mikono craft shop as a shop attendant, and I meet refugees nearly every day through my work. The people I serve come with all sorts of problems. Most of the time I am not in a position to meet their needs, so the best I can do is listen.
During the Last Supper, Jesus displayed his humility by washing the disciples’ feet.
This is one of my greatest challenges now that I serve refugees. Serving others can be very difficult and it calls for an act of humility. I feel refugees expect so much from me sometimes, especially when I listen to their sad stories and they expect me to solve their problems.
The help they need may not be offered by the project I work on, so this is where I must be humble and let them know we are not in a position to assist them as they had hoped. I refer them elsewhere so they may receive the specific help they want. I often frustrate myself and at times I think I frustrate refugees too.
Adapted from God in Exile, 2005