When I moved to Syracuse, I had no idea that there are about 1,100 refugees coming to live in Syracuse each year. “Most of the refugees currently on their way to Syracuse are coming from the Congo, Bhutan, Burma and Kenyan refugee camps housing people from Sudan and Somalia…”*
About a year into my time living here in an apartment complex on the Northside/Eastwood line of the city, I constantly saw this 12-year-old boy playing basketball in his driveway.
For a while, I didn’t think much of it, but one day I decided to go over there and challenge him to a game of “HORSE.” I quickly learned that he loved playing basketball and that his accent showed he was not from the U.S.! He told me him and his family moved from the Congo, a small country in Africa, and that he had five younger sisters and his mom and dad live here. Long story short, it’s been a beautiful friendship with this family and I continuously learn so much from them.
At Henninger High School, I coach basketball and work as an FCA representative there to help equip and encourage athletes and coaches to be positive leaders. This past Friday when I was there for an FCA Huddle with a few other athletes, there was a change in scenery to say the least…
As we were discussing the strengths God’s given us and affirming that in each other, a group of mostly girls came in setting up for their Multicultural club dance session in front of the Smartboard screen. They were looking up various African dance songs to dance to and they were having a blast!
In both of these examples, I will tell you what motivates me by being around these refugee students and families: their joy and resiliency. Can you imagine witnessing the death of your extended family and countless other citizens of your country and spending years in a refugee camp, hoping and praying to find safety and freedom in a country like the U.S.?
I absolutely love living here to meet some of these refugee families who have sacrificed so much to be here. I am blown away by the joy they have for being alive and just to have another chance to build a life.
Thanks to these refugee families I meet, I am motivated to live with gratitude and to be confident that God gives us the strength to endure whatever hardships we face!