FOOD FOR THOUGHT
What can we possibly do against such odds? How can our minds even take it all in? It’s almost impossible...millions turn to statistics in our minds. But ONE, one is a life. One is a story. One is a tragedy. One is a new start. One is renewed hope, and one is where we begin again to put our world back together.
“Food for Thought” is a very small offering, but it’s a place to start. By reading it, by entering your kitchen and making someone else’s recipe, a recipe that came from their home, you are letting that person in. And while you cook, I hope you read a small part of their story, and that you let that in, as well. This is only a collection of stories and recipes from refugees and people who work with them in one relatively small corner of America. But giving ourselves a chance to be open to a little “food for thought” is a place to start and a place to change our hearts and our thinking.
To qualify as a refugee, a person has to leave their home country and make it to a host country on their own. They then wait, usually with very limited resources and rights, to see if they will be resettled, usually by the UN. Unless a refugee already has family in a specific resettlement country, they usually have no choice about where they will be resettled. Asylum seekers usually need a relative or sponsor. They cannot simply go where they would like.
This book is by no means a complete picture. There are many countries that are not featured. Not every refugee population that comes to America has been resettled in Twin Falls. Not every population that has been resettled there is featured. However, it is a place to start understanding. I ask you not to see the incompleteness but to see the courage of those brave enough to share their stories.
As I entered the homes of the generous refugees who agreed to host me and share their stories and their foods with me, I often removed my shoes. It wasn’t just politeness. When someone trusts us and allows us in, we should treat it as holy ground. In this book, each of these people is opening the door to you and offering you a seat at their table. By sharing their food, by sharing their story, they have opened the door of themselves to you, and it is a sacred trust to walk through it. When you walk through their door, they will become a part of you and a small part of them will be inside you forever. Things begin to change when we allow ourselves to become a part of each other.
Invisible Barriers to Belonging: Their Story is Our Story Presents at the 2023 Idaho Conference on Refugees
Their Story is Our Story (TSOS) was pleased to present at the 2023 Idaho Conference on Refugees held at Boise State University on February 22-23. In alignment with the conference theme Creating Connections, our TSOS team addressed three significant invisible barriers that we consistently encounter in our work and invited audience members to think about how local community members might leverage their inter- and intra- connections to help Forcibly Displaced Persons overcome invisible barriers so they might achieve an equal footing in society.
Just as citizens in Europe and the U.K. have heroically supported displaced Ukrainians by opening up their homes or securing other housing, assisting with school enrollments, employment needs, and language learning, Americans now have the opportunity via the Welcome.us Sponsor Circles program to directly help newly arrived Ukrainians. The United States has committed to welcoming 100,000 Ukrainians temporarily for a period of two-years and the ability to apply for employment authorization in the U.S. as long as they have a U.S.-based sponsor to petition for them.
If you have a story, experience or opinion to share in support of our Afghan allies, we ask you to share it to help us demonstrate public support for legislation that supports and aids these individuals and families.