I knew that their one room garage home was small. Oppressive. Dark. Full of outside persecution, unfriendliness, and distress. Inside was hardly a shelter. Yet, it was all they had for 3 awfully long years. 3 years of not enough room to even walk about. 3 years of inhumane living conditions. Could we call this a refugee? Hardly. They called it a prison. But aren’t refugees supposed to find refuge?
Could hand outs from the UN create refuge? Or food baskets? Or food vouchers? Or random donations of clothes and various pieces of broken old furniture equal refuge? Certainly, all these things helped. However, at the end of the day safety in shelter is necessary to move beyond bare survival.
Two months ago, the three ladies that lived in this “home” were brave enough to trust me to start making cards. At first, I think they just thought it was a fun craft, but when they began to understand that this could be a livelihood for them, their eagerness to sew matched their need.
Unbelievably, 96 cards later, they moved. They now have a full-size bathroom with a bathtub, a kitchen, a bedroom, a large living room, a vast window, a garden area, and a place to dry laundry. More importantly they are much safer. No longer are men threatening them. No longer are they filled with fear to open that literal heavy metal door. A prison door. Now they can move beyond survival. Today they have a place of refuge.
Released from prison, is what they declare. I cannot describe the joy and deep satisfaction of handing hope to people. It warms my coldest moments. It motivates my lowest days. It inspires me to want to add more refugees that need releasing from whatever prison that holds them.
Last week we added another woman refugee to the Threads of Hope team. This time from Iraq. She is an exceptionally talented crafter and full of joy despite her trials and losses. I have a feeling that she will add elements to this project that are inspirational. Hopefully, this project will bless her beyond what we can even imagine.
Threads of Hope is beginning to take shape and form. We now have a logo and are building our social media platform. We are growing and learning with it as we try to navigate taking a simple idea and turning it into small micro industries. I am a nurse. Not a businesswoman. My neighbor who is helping me, is a physical therapist. Yet here we are. On a quest. To tell their stories. To deliver hope. To set them free.
It is liberating. As liberating as opening a prison door. Please continue to journey with me and see.