Please don’t get me wrong. I believe every girl and every woman should enjoy the moment of wearing a pretty dress and being a princess at a ball. (Don’t bother to comment on whether the dress you see is pretty, and don’t go off on women who don’t like to wear dresses, men who do, or even kilts. You get my point.) I imagine that the little refugee girl you see has imagined her own moment in a figurative glass slippers.
I happen to have known more than a few refugees in my sheltered life. I know one who was the son of Cuban doctor and was smuggled out during the revolution with his siblings. His parents escaped years later. His father could not practice, but they lived a modest life and raised a son who became a corporate executive and a good and caring man. There are others, but I need to share one particular example.
My church and a related nonprofit sponsored a Cambodian family during the Pol Pot regime. The family grew in numbers as others escaped and joined them to form a community that resembled what the values we think of as American much more than any “native” ones I know.
One Cambodian child stood out, and I’d like to share his story with you. I doubt that he would mind my giving his name, but his story is not unique among those of refugees, so let him simply be an example.
This child crawled through the mud of rice fields in Cambodia with his family, while bullets passed overhead to escape horrors comparable to the Syrian girl you see above. I had the honor of helping him when he arrived, but he quickly proved himself a better and more directed person than I could have been. He learned English, excelled in school, and earned a scholarship to Duke. There he became a nurse practitioner, so that he could return to Cambodia and help heal his people. He is still there today, serving humbly but with more dignity and grace than words can relate.
I fond it hard at times to carry on in this world that has gone wrong in so many ways. If you have a moment like that, find yourself a refugee and ask for his or her story. The power of yearning to be free can be miraculous, and we need some miracles today.