By Shelley Dewig, Catholic Charities of Louisville
Migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.” – Pope Francis, World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 2014
It was raining the day Abdullah shared his story with me. That day, I was at the local library attending a mentoring activity I helped organize for a local refugee resettlement agency. I remember wondering how he was going to get home in such inclement weather.
As we packed up to leave, it began pouring and suddenly turned very cold. I asked him if he had a ride home, and he assured me he would walk. After some arguing, he finally relented and allowed me to drive the five blocks to his house.
What should have lasted a minute ended up taking four hours as he told his harrowing story about fleeing his former life in northern Iraq.
Abdullah was a Christian living in a Muslim-majority country, and he and his family had been targeted by numerous Muslim extremist groups for months. He and his family had received death threats at home, work and school, he said, so he made the hard decision to leave.