The article featuring our community welcoming families from Ukraine fleeing war gave a local connection to the reality of war and its destructiveness. We are made painfully aware of the atrocities and loss being wrecked in Ukraine through a plethora of news feeds. Aside from sending financial aid to the agencies dedicated to providing support to Ukraine, most of us feel overwhelmed and powerless. Thank goodness for Judy Rother and her instincts and experience with refugees. She and others shepherded the Tibetan contingent when they arrived on the Sunshine Coast a number of years ago, to great success. While some still live here, others have found homes elsewhere based on job and education opportunities. We witnessed first-hand the process of integrating refugees into our community. This is a huge commitment filled with many challenges.
After reading the news item on the Ukrainians and the anecdote regarding the retrieval of the roller skates for the teenaged twin girls, it struck me that the roller skates represent a metaphor for the refugees. The fact that the roller skates were buried in the ruins of their home and, when alerted, a remaining neighbour was guided by the girls’ dad to locate and extract those skates via facetime, was symbolic of the escape that those fleeing violence must endure. This includes the skates going on a convoluted and costly journey before finally arriving in Gibsons. The poignant part for me was the arduous process the girls faced dissecting out shards of glass and debris in order for the skates to be restored to function. Thus is the challenge faced by refugees who have embarked on an escape to survive and yet there are costs, the need for supports, a healing process, and a little luck in the quest to establish a new life while all the while going through the stages of grief for what they have lost.
Thanks to those who are welcoming these families.