We think of courage as a characteristic defined by bold action beyond the parameters of what we consider normal. We assign it to those who mentally or physically take on that which would make others shudder or turn away. Those whom we consider courageous may be labeled heroes or heroines — and we do not have to look far to find these legends.
There are heroes right here in town. Not surprisingly, some of them are veterans of war. Many are everyday heroes, though, like Newtown Congregational Church member Gordon Williams, Trinity Episcopal’s Rick Chamiec-Case, and other members of the Newtown faith community. They are at the heart of an effort to help a refugee family from the Middle East or Africa resettle in this area.
This is an effort that is a leap of faith: that others will support the Interfaith Partnership for Refugee Resettlement (IPRR) through monetary donations; that volunteers will step up to help the family assimilate into this culture; that appropriate housing will be found; and that all of the minutia of such an effort will gel. It is an act of courage, knowing that not everyone is open to the idea that foreigners from war-torn parts of the world should be welcomed to our country, let alone to our area.
There is courage on the other side, as well. Here is a family who will have left all they know and love for the unknown. They are willing to leave behind not only friends, extended family, and material belongings, but oftentimes status, as well. In this new country they will start over, because what they find here, no matter how humble in others’ eyes, is preferable to a life in a country where persecution, war, and fear are constant companions.
Here, in New England, they will persevere, hoping only for acceptance and a safe future for their children and loved ones.
No one will give the members of IPRR any medals of honor for their selfless act of courage to trust that an intensive vetting process will weed out newcomers who could pose a threat. No bright pin will prove that they stepped forward when others held back.
Nor will anyone pin a badge of courage on this family newly minted in our society.
But those who offer a positive solution to this urgent refugee situation, and families who close one door to open another, not knowing what is on the other side, are deserving of support. This is a show of courage that can move lives forward.
The heroic actions of those associated with the IPRR make a better world for those whose lives they impact. There is room for anyone willing to confront his or her own fears, and stave off the fears generated by others, to help. Dig deep, and find the courage within.
To volunteer, contact Mr Chamiec-Case at 203-270-8780 or Mr Williams at 203-405-6392 or firstname.lastname@example.org.