"There is no way to peace; peace is the way." - A. J. Muste
So when we arrived at the Church World Service of Immigration and Resettlement in Lancaster on Thursday, we expected to be meeting with many individuals behind desks who deal with paper and red tape.
But the moment we walked in, we were handed an address and cell phone number for a case manager and told to go to a house. We were told that this person was meeting with a family that had recently been resettled in the United States. They were from Bhutan and were finding ways to organize medical information.
So we arrive at this house in Lancaster. We walk in to a home to a family which doesn't speak English. A volunteer through CWS is translating the conversation so the case manager and the family can understand each other. They covered everything from medical information, organizing bills, English classes, jobs, and next steps.
And that's how it normally works for refugees.
Refugees are not immigrants. They are not here because they wanted to relocate to another country.
They were forced to leave their homeland.
For reasons beyond their control, refugees will be persecuted if they return to their country of origin. This usually occurs over war torn countries or areas of limited resources. The fact of the matter is that there are corrupt governments in this world and sometimes all a person can do is leave.
The United Nations places individuals seeking safe asylum based upon a number of factors. The United States, however, accepts more refugees than any other nation in the world. Thusly, the US resettles great numbers of refugees yearly.
And Church World Services helps with that transition. They take refugees who have been resettled in Lancaster and help them with their time in their new home.
After visiting with this family in Lancaster, we tried to head back to the office. We were side tracked though.
A new family was coming into Lancaster on Friday night. It's Thursday. CWS has to get furniture into a house. We grab our gear, our car, and go help. We're riding around town with furniture in the back of our car, making house calls to people who have donated beds, and moving couches into a new home for a family of refugees.
They arrive on Friday night at approximately 10:05 pm in Harrisburg International Airport. We were given an address and contact to go meet with the family and welcome them into their new home on Saturday afternoon.
And this is where we have to take an aside. You know the moments in your life that you remember clearly? The moments that are etched into your mind and can't remove? These moments exist because you feel something for the first time. We had one of those moments when we met this family for the first time.
They were a Nepalese family which had relocated to the states. They had family in Lancaster so the new refugees were enjoying time with family that had been in Lancaster for a while now. We walked in, introduced ourselves, learned the phrase "Namaste", and were given tea while we filmed.
And that tea was the sensation. In one moment, we were sitting in a living room in Lancaster, listening to a family of refugees speak in Nepali, teaching young children about camera equipment, and sipping Nepalese tea.
And in that moment, the family felt at peace. They had their family, friends, and loved ones around them. They were being welcomed by a community with open arms. They had an organization that cared about their transition and their arrival.
They felt safe... and as if they had finally arrived home.
And being at home with the ones you love is all we can ask for.