Archive | August, 2017

Refugee Road

19 Aug

Many refugees who fled their home countries are now, under the hostile atmosphere of the Trump era, fleeing the U.S. for Canada – which poses its own legal barriers. In one of the ironies of history, that now means seeking backroads not into, but out of, the United States.

While official ports of entry into Canada will send the immigrants back to their previous country, an exception to the law allows people to apply for refugee status if they enter through country roads like Roxham Road near Champlain in upstate New York. This Associated Press article from August 10th tells the story. Since so many refugees are desperate not to return to the devastating war and poverty of their country of origin, hundreds are making the pilgrimage to Canada in hopes of a finding a nation which offers compassion and hope.

Sadly, at least for these particular refugees, the United States is no longer such a place.

The issues of immigration are complex. But regardless of where you draw the boundary in immigration law, this altered reality, unfolding against the backdrop of blatant racism in our country today, has to sadden anyone truly invested in the notion of America as a compassionate nation. But if you’re one of the ones who read this story linked above and need an outlet to convert negative feelings into positive action, you don’t need to drive to Champlain, NY. Just reach out to refugees who are already productive citizens right here  in our own community.

In Worcester, African Community Education, Ascentria, the Southeast Asian Coalition, and Worcester Refugee Assistance Project are just a few of the places that could use your skills, your financial support – and your compassionate presence, a reminder that, even in this confusing and self-contradictory nation, there are still millions of people who care … and who respect the long road those refugees have taken to be here with us now. And their presence can be even more a blessing in your own life.


Miracles, Even Now

8 Aug

When Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times isn’t providing thorough reporting and devastating critiques of the wrongs of our world, he’s providing plenty of news about altruistic and talented people making a positive difference.

One example is A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, the book Kristof co-wrote with wife Sheryl WuDunn about some of the hundreds of altruistic efforts all over the world that actually work, as well as some that don’t.


Kristof speaks at World Economic Forum. (World Economic Forum/Monika Flueckiger.)

Another example is reporting about efforts like the one in this piece that appeared in The New York Times last month. (Sorry I am just now posting it.)

As often is the case with the stories Kristof reports, the fact the problem even exists in this day and age may outrage – but the success in overcoming it should inspire. While many are doing wanton and callous damage to the world’s most vulnerable citizens, others continue to take active responsibility for doing generous and even ingenious work to improve the lives of others.

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