From Today’s Gospel:
‘Jesus said to his disciples: “Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.”’
As we continue our Lenten journey and encounter some of the refugees accompanied by JRS, where do you notice the giving of gifts in these stories?
This week, we introduce you to Juliet, who has been accompanied by JRS for over seven years.
“My story is a long one, as is the experience of so many refugees who seek asylum in the UK. But I’m more than my immigration status.”
Juliet recalls first arriving to the UK over ten years ago, and how challenging those first few weeks and months were.
“The most difficult thing at that time was the language. Without language you can’t communicate. So, you are frustrated because you don’t know what to say. You don’t know how to express yourself, you don’t know where to go to learn English. You wait. You are waiting for the Home Office say to you that you need to do this and do that, always without understanding or speaking English.
“I’m still learning English. It has taken time and effort for me to learn English. I needed to be mentally ready to learn. But whatever I do, I need the language. I was just fed up, for example there is no way for me to go to the GP and talking about my privacy without an interpreter. You need to have courage to start, and to be with people who are going to encourage you in the process.
“Now I can speak the language better – people can understand me and I can understand them – mostly! I still don’t always feel comfortable, I still sometimes think, ‘Am I saying the right thing? Are they going to laugh?’ I can say things I don’t like, things that I do like, I can express my thoughts and my feelings. It’s made a huge difference.”
An Invitation to Action
Juliet clearly articulates how important it is to be able to understand English – both for her to be able to communicate with the Home Office and progress her asylum claim, but also for her to combat the feelings of being lost, to be able to express her thoughts and feelings to others.
Throughout Lent, we’re inviting you to make an extra effort to take small actions to show refugees and people seeking asylum understanding and compassion.
Volunteer: Could you volunteer your time and skills to help refugees and people seeking asylum to learn English? Could you use your gifts to help a refugee in this way?
It’s likely there is a project near to you which you can help support – the NACCOM Member Directory is a great place to start. Or your diocese might have a project you can get involved in – contact your local Caritas.
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