Have you ever experienced something so profound, so outside your box, so humbling that you're not sure you can put words to it?
I know, I'm the writer...where are the words?
Bear with me for a few minutes as I process my experience this morning through the writing of this post...
Let me give you a little backstory. Several months ago, Scott sold a 401K plan to a medical practice in Buffalo's inner city. I mean INNER city. A recent stat I read from the census bureau ranked Buffalo as the 2nd poorest city per capita in the country! This particular medical practice resides in a zip code that is the 3rd poorest of all of Buffalo's 17 zip codes.
When Scott came home to tell me about this medical practice and the ministry (Jericho Road Ministries) that had branched off of it, my heart was moved to find out more. It was also inspired.
In that moment I decided that I wanted to begin writing profiles of non-profits in the Buffalo area. I felt like there were probably many non-profit organizations in the area doing amazing work for the city that residents didn't know about, or hadn't heard about. I felt that if you could spread the word, particularly to people in the outlying suburbs that perhaps it would inspire others to donate, or volunteer or connect to these organizations in some way and therefore help to promote and meet some of their needs.
I thought that the Buffalo News would be a great place for these profiles, but they didn't show much interest when I mentioned the idea. A couple of weeks later I was introduced to one of the founders of an online publication called Buffalo Rising and he said he'd be more than happy to publish the articles.
I set out to start my first profile on Jericho Road Family Practice and the ministries connected to them. Check them out online here.
They are a ministry that primarily serves refugees who have been resettled in Buffalo, N.Y. The word "serves" seems too small, too simple to describe what they are doing. Their outreach is striving to do so much, for so many, in rather challenging circumstances, that it is mind blowing.
Let me just tell you, I drove down to one of the poorest sections of this poor city and met some of it's hardest pressed residents this morning and I have nothing to say except that I am truly humbled. By how much I have, by all the blessings in my life, by the fact that we live in a country that doesn't oppress us like the Burmese women I met this morning.
Some of these men and women were forced out of their homes because their governments burned down their villages merely to force these people to continue to live in fear. Some of them ended up in refugee camps for 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years! Being pregnant, trying to find food for themselves and their children, trying to take care of health concerns, from tents they had set up.
Eventually, when all options for remaining in their own countries are diminished, the UN tells them they are going to be resettled into a more developed country. They have no choice where they are going to end up. Some of them end up in Buffalo, N.Y.
Can you imagine?
I can't wrap my head around it.
Two of the women I met this morning, both pregnant, have been living in the U.S. since last summer. This past winter was the first time they had ever seen snow. One of them spoke VERY little English, the other is now working as a translator.
The one who spoke very little English admitted this morning to being suicidal several months ago; so depressed and so afraid of all that she was bringing her baby into that she felt like it would be better for her and her baby to not exist in the world. She had no job, she didn't speak English, she didn't know how to make her way in this place she was forced to go after experiencing awful traumas in her own country.
She felt hopeless until she found HOPE, literally. HOPE Refugee Services and Jericho Road Ministries merged last year to help people exactly like her. They have brought hope into the lives of so many resettled refugees in Buffalo that people living in refugee camps halfway around the world have heard about them.
What I experienced this morning was SO far outside my box that I momentarily thought I was in another country, very far from the place I live. I walked into Jericho's Walk in Center where more than 2 dozen people, speaking probably as many different languages, were all waiting to be helped. Women with babies slung on their backs, children in tow, men waiting to be driven to a doctors appointments or figure out how to get a green card.
I will write more as I learn more, but needed to share this with you today.
We are a VERY, VERY BLESSED people. We have so much and our difficulties are so little in comparison to the lives of other people in this world.
Jericho Road is always looking for donations; adult clothing, baby clothing, they especially need car seats and cribs. They take toys and books for babies. They need diapers. LOTS of diapers! Diapers are expensive and many of these people are trying to figure out how to put food on their tables and don't even own a washer to be able to wash soiled clothing, much less cloth diapers.
They are also looking for mentors for their Pricilla Project; A very cool project that supports pregnant women like the one I met this morning. Her mentee, a young girl in her early 20's, doesn't speak her language, but she takes her grocery shopping, she drove her to and attended her babies ultrasound and she helps her with her ESL work. No words are needed, just a caring heart.
As I mentioned, I'll write more as I learn more, but at the very least if you have things you can donate either check out their web site or contact me and I'll let you know how to get in touch with them.
Blessings to you all on this day. Count your blessings, they are abundant.