Written by Twila Bird
My name is Twila Bird; I'm one of the founders of TSOS. I just returned from another trip to Europe in behalf of TSOS (Their Story is Our Story) to help interview refugees trying to find safe places in a world of chaos. Here’s our team as we first gathered last week from our far-flung homes to begin interviewing in Germany, France and Italy.
I’m always a muddle of emotions when I return home from these intense, story-gathering ventures. I feel guilt for returning to comfort after witnessing profound deprivation. I’m angry and frustrated with those who have eyes but don’t see. I despair at how inhumane humans can be. Conversely, I feel tremendous respect for those who endure indignities with dignity and I feel joy as I mingle with those who lift, clothe, feed, and comfort. My hope rises when I see how humane humans can be.
So now our work begins afresh. We’re armed with dozens of new, raw glimpses into the lives of desperate people on the move. We want to show how similar their hopes and dreams are to yours and mine. They want security, dignity, and a place to call home. I can’t cure their woes by myself but I can do something. With other TSOS team members, I can help by posting their stories in the hope that understanding will breed compassion.
The Emerald Project is a Utah-based organization that carefully designs dialogues to engage with non-Muslims to make Salt Lake Valley a more welcoming home to Muslims. As many of our refugee friends belong to the Muslim faith, we applaud opportunities that foster understanding and were pleased to support The Emerald Project’s 3rd annual “Slam the Islamophobia” event on February 15th.
Refugees often risk their lives crossing deserts, jungles, and oceans all in the search for shelter, freedom, or happiness. Yet, even once they’ve reached physical safety, mental mountains emerge that make daily life an uphill climb. At the November 2022 conference for the Utah Chapter of the Society for Public Health Education (USOPHE), presenters Shurooq Al Jewari and Sasha Sloan discussed mental health and inclusion, focusing on immigrants and refugees.