By JOHN BUTLER
OK, I know some people will not like this and they will call it gossip but my wife and I are worried about it so it needs to aired out.
We have one daughter that is still a JW. i will call her H. She is married to a non JW. She has 4 children.
This daughter does not seem to recognise any dangers at all about her children. She invites anyone to her house without really knowing who they are or anything about their past.
3 of the children are girls and they attend ballet and tap dance lessons. They are only young, the oldest being around 8 years old.
Today they were in a performance /show in Exeter, a biggish show that their teacher was putting on for all parents, grandparents, etc.
I wasn't allowed to go of course as I'm a 'naughty boy' that left the Org.
My wife went to the show and was surprised to find two 'brothers' there.
One of the 'brothers' is a young single Elder and the other 'brother' is an old man that has recently been reinstated and moved into Honiton congregation.
This older man frequently visits H and her daughters at their home and the girls call him Uncle Phil. He seems very 'friendly' toward the girls.
H does not know where this 'brother' is from but he is now part of the Honiton Congregation which H and her children attend, here in Devon.
It seems strange to me that this man has just arrived at Honiton Congregation and just been reinstated. My wife says he has a London accent.
If I were still a JW I would ask him bluntly why he was disfellowshipped and where he is from, but of course I cannot do that now.
I have his full name, so is there any way i can run a check on him ?
Should i contact an Elder at Honiton Congregation and tell them of the concern my wife and I have ?
If this 'brother' had been involved in a child abuse accusation would they have told H about it so that she could be on her guard ?
Some on here may think I'm just trying to cause trouble, but my wife came home this evening and is looking very worried.
It seems that H had invited both 'brothers' to the meal afterward and my wife felt unhappy about the whole situation.
TTH will probably bring out the rule book again and say 'it never happens', but child abuse does happen and needs to be looked for all the time.
Our daughter H seems to have no idea about the situations that have taken place, and in honesty she doesn't want to know. So how can my wife warn her ?
By JOHN BUTLER
I was going to add this to another topic but remembered we are told to start new topics, so I've done that.
Hope this hasn't been added before but it would take me a month to go through all the topics to see if its on here.
It is about the baptism of children, but I also thing it involves making children go on the ministry.
By Jack Ryan
This weeks Watchtower - Paragraph 7 says, “In recent years, many countries have experienced an influx of refugees. What can you do to help such ones come to know Jehovah and his purpose.Â”
They may as well have just said, Â“In recent years, many countries have experienced an influx of refugees. These refugees are usually frightened, have lost loved ones, had to leave them behind or have fled for their lives. They are emotionally vulnerable and will be easily susceptible to any messages of hope and promises of friends, community and support, take advantage of this to reel them inÂ”.
By Jack Ryan
Sounds like a Buzzfeed article doesn't it?
You'll never believe number 7 ?
Click next to continue slideshow...
Today Presidents Trump and Putin meet for summit, and the New York Times tells of an exiled Jehovah's Witness who proposes Trump ask Putin a simple question: "Why are Russians who pay their taxes, follow the law and embrace the Christian values promoted by the Kremlin being forced to flee their country?"
A simple [and single] question. To propose that Trump do this is exactly the non-confrontational style of Jehovah's Witnesses, and is proof in itself that they are not extremist. Moreover, because the goal is so modest, it is not impossible that it could happen. Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia is not everywhere, but where it is, it is draconian, with police dressed in riot gear breaking down doors to arrest them.
Meanwhile (and irrelevant), I did a google search of "New York Times Jehovah's Witnesses." The second hit is an article from 1958, telling of (I think) the largest Christian assembly in history.
Remember, Google is personalized. Your results may vary.
Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that despite this informative document recently made available to download in several languages on the JW website, there is not too much of a mention of it by any of the opposers and "campaigners" against child abuse in the JW organization.
Here is the entire document:
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES’ SCRIPTURALLY BASED POSITION ON CHILD PROTECTION
Definitions: Child abuse may include neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse.
Child sexual abuse is a perversion and generally includes one or more of the following: sexual inter-course with a child; oral or anal sex with a child; fondling the genitals, breasts, or buttocks of a child; voyeurism of a child; indecent exposure to a child; or soliciting a child for sexual conduct. It may include sexting with a minor or showing pornography to a minor.
In this document, references to parents apply equally to legal guardians or other persons who hold pa-rental responsibility for a minor.
1. Children are a sacred trust, “an inheritance from Jehovah.”—Psalm 127:3.
2. The protection of children is of utmost concern and importance to all Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is in harmony with the long-standing and widely published Scripturally based position of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as reflected in the references at the end of this document, which are all published on jw.org.
3. Jehovah’s Witnesses abhor child abuse and view it as a crime. (Romans 12:9) We recognize that the authorities are responsible for addressing such crimes. (Romans 13:1-4) The elders do not shield any perpetrator of child abuse from the authorities.
4. In all cases, victims and their parents have the right to report an accusation of child abuse to the authorities. Therefore, victims, their parents, or anyone else who reports such an accusation to the elders are clearly informed by the elders that they have the right to report the matter to the authorities. Elders do not criticize anyone who chooses to make such a report.—Galatians 6:5.
5. When elders learn of an accusation of child abuse, they immediately consult with the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses to ensure compliance with child abuse reporting laws. (Romans 13:1) Even if the elders have no legal duty to report an accusation to the authorities, the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses will instruct the elders to report the matter if a minor is still in danger of abuse or there is some other valid reason. Elders also ensure that the victim’s parents are informed of an accusation of child abuse. If the alleged abuser is one of the victim’s parents, the elders will inform the other parent.
6. Parents have the primary responsibility for the protection, safety, and instruction of their children. Therefore, parents who are members of the congregation are encouraged to be vigilant in exercising their responsibility at all times and to do the following:
• Have direct and active involvement in their children’s lives.
• Educate themselves and their children about child abuse.
• Encourage, promote, and maintain regular communication with their children. —Deuteronomy 6:6, 7; Proverbs 22:3.
Jehovah’s Witnesses publish an abundance of Bible-based information to assist parents to fulfill their responsibility to protect and instruct their children.—See the references at the end of this document.
7. Congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses do not separate children from their parents for the purpose of instruction or other activities. (Ephesians 6:4) For example, our congregations do not provide or sponsor orphanages, Sunday schools, sports clubs, day-care centers, youth groups, or other activi-ties that separate children from their parents.
8. Elders strive to treat victims of child abuse with compassion, understanding, and kindness. (Colossians 3:12) As spiritual counselors, the elders endeavor to listen carefully and empathetically to victims and to console them. (Proverbs 21:13; Isaiah 32:1, 2; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; James 1:19) Victims and their families may decide to consult a mental-health professional. This is a personal decision.
9. Elders never require victims of child abuse to present their accusation in the presence of the alleged abuser. However, victims who are now adults may do so, if they wish. In addition, victims can be accompanied by a confidant of either gender for moral support when presenting their accusation to the elders. If a victim prefers, the accusation can be submitted in the form of a written statement.
10. Child abuse is a serious sin. If an alleged abuser is a member of the congregation, the elders conduct a Scriptural investigation. This is a purely religious proceeding handled by elders according to Scriptural instructions and is limited to the issue of membership as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A member of the congregation who is an unrepentant child abuser is expelled from the congregation and is no longer considered one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (1 Corinthians 5:13) The elders’ handling of an accusation of child abuse is not a replacement for the authorities’ handling of the matter.—Romans 13:1-4.
11. If it is determined that one guilty of child sexual abuse is repentant and will remain in the congregation, restrictions are imposed on the individual’s congregation activities. The individual will be specifically admonished by the elders not to be alone in the company of children, not to cultivate friendships with children, or display any affection for children. In addition, elders will inform parents of minors within the congregation of the need to monitor their children’s interaction with the individ-ual.
12. A person who has engaged in child sexual abuse does not qualify to receive any congregation privileges or to serve in a position of responsibility in the congregation for decades, if ever. —1 Timothy 3:1-7, 10; 5:22; Titus 1:7.
13. This document is available upon request to members of the congregation. It is reviewed at least once every three years.
By Guest Nicole
A video has emerged apparently showing Libyan children enacting a mass execution, resembling those carried out by Islamic State, with one child shooting kneeling Â“prisonersÂ” in the head with a toy gun. READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/8ynr
Refugees find a welcoming home in Minnesota: State, federal actions would limit numbers allowed to settle hereBy Guest Nicole
At home in Minnesota
To refugee Sivasundaram, his home in Burnsville feels like paradise.
"I am so happy here," said Sivasundaram, wearing the reflective vest from his job as a forklift operator. On a recent evening, he rested for a few minutes before going to his night job stocking shelves at a Target store.
His wife, Manchuladevy Ravindran, soon walked in, home from her job as a housekeeper in a nearby motel, and started cooking dinner for her three boys.
Some people would call it a stressful life — but not this family. They compare it with the life they had before.
Until 2006, they lived in Sri Lanka, an island south of India. They were part of an ethnic group called Tamils, which the government often treats like terrorists.
Soldiers rampaged through their village in a raid, slaughtered Sivasundaram's mother, and burned her house down. When he complained to the government, his life was threatened.
The family fled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where they remained for eight years. "I did house cleaning, plumbing, cutting grass, driving a taxi," recalled Sivasundaram.
The family remembers, above all, the crime.
"You couldn't use a phone in the street. Someone would take it," said Sivasundaram. "Someone would cut off the ears of old ladies for the earrings."
The boys faced a unique danger. "They would have kidnapped me for the military, or sold me to another country," said Kapilas, his 17-year-old son.
The family made a Minnesota contact through their Jehovah's Witnesses church. As soon as they arrived, neighbors knocked on their front door to welcome them.
The boys had been raised as English-speakers and have assimilated rapidly.
They laugh about the quirks of their new homeland. "I like Chick-Fil-A. The food in Malaysia is healthier, but this is tastier," said Simraj, 16.
Apilas, 13, is fascinated by boneless fish, which he never encountered in Malaysia. "I always ask: Is that fish, or is that steak?" he said.
Kapilas marveled at his new, low-stress life. "We have security and peace. Here, all I have to worry about is studying," he said.
They gathered for a meal at a time necessitated by their hectic schedules — 11 p.m.
In three years, they have saved enough to buy a car, then a house. "There is a great future here for all of us," said the father. Their success is shared by others. Simraj named 10 relatives and friends who have since followed them to America.
At the end of the interview, the father was asked whether he had anything else to say.
He is not fluent in English, so when asked a question, he looks pleadingly at his sons for help.
"No," he said. "Just thank you."
By Guest Nicole
Children who eat fish tend to sleep better and score higher on IQ tests, a new study has found.
Using self-administered questionnaires, researchers collected information on fish consumption among 541 Chinese boys and girls ages 9 to 11. Parents reported their children’s sleep duration, how often they awoke at night, daytime sleepiness and other sleep patterns. At age 12, the children took IQ tests.
Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/26/well/eat/fish-brain-iq-intelligence-children-kids.html?_r=2
By Guest Nicole
Schoolchildren who read and write at home with their parents may build not only their academic literacy skills, but also other important life and learning skills, a recent study found.
The project, a study by researchers at the University of Washington, followed children for five years, either grades one through five or three through seven. It looked at their reading and writing activities at home, their school progress and their skills, both according to their parents’ reports and according to annual assessments.
In the study, published in May in the Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation by Nicole Alston-Abel and Virginia W. Berninger, parents were asked to rate their children’s ability to pay attention, set goals, control impulses and regulate their level of activity. Dr. Berninger, who is professor emerita of educational psychology at the University of Washington, said, “It’s not just the skills the parents teach at home, it’s also how they help their children’s self-regulation, sometimes called executive function.” Writing, she said, was just as important as reading, and the children in the study tended to struggle harder with writing, and to get more help with those assignments from their parents.
Well over 20 years ago, when we started using books at pediatric checkups, we called it literacy promotion. Then for a while, “school readiness” was the buzzword and the byword, so, not unreasonably, we talked about school readiness. And as more and more attention was drawn to early brain development, it seemed clear, as we talked about getting books into children’s hands and children’s homes, that what we were really trying to do was help foster the language-rich parent-child interactions that build children’s brains.
Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/16/well/family/literacy-builds-life-skills-as-well-as-language-skills.html
By Guest Nicole
By Guest Nicole
10+ yrs polar bear.pdf
10+yrs bike by tree.pdf
5-10 yrs kids_Africa.pdf
5-10 yrs kids_Lorikeet.pdf
By Bible Speaks
Children have been compared to “arrows in the hand of a mighty man.”
An archer has the arrow in his bow for only a relatively short time. To hit the target, he must quickly let it go.
Likewise, parents have only a relatively short period of time to develop in their children heartfelt love for Jehovah.
After what seems to be just a few short years, the children grow up and leave home. Will they hit the target—that is, will the children continue to love and serve God after they leave home?
Numerous factors influence the answer. Much depends upon the skill of the parent, the environment in which the children are raised, and the way the ‘arrow,’ or child, responds to the training he or she receives. - Psalms 127:4.
1 GIF TAP ON FOR ACTION — Enjoy!
By Guest Nicole
For example if children are noisy during the meeting, parents may take them to the restroom or outside the Hall and hit them with a belt or hand?
By Guest Nicole
June 6, 2017
Michigan State University
The power of friendship gets stronger with age and may even be more important than family relationships, indicates new research.
The power of friendship gets stronger with age and may even be more important than family relationships, indicates new research by a Michigan State University scholar.In a pair of studies involving nearly 280,000 people, William Chopik found that friendships become increasingly important to one’s happiness and health across the lifespan. Not only that, but in older adults, friendships are actually a stronger predictor of health and happiness than relationships with family members.“Friendships become even more important as we age,” said Chopik, assistant professor of psychology. “Keeping a few really good friends around can make a world of difference for our health and well-being. So it’s smart to invest in the friendships that make you happiest.”
Read more: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170606090936.htm
By Jack Ryan
You read that right. There is a whole talk on the topic.
Outline: Safeguard Your Children From “What Is Evil” CO-tk17-26-E
By Bible Speaks
25 "Therefore, now that you have put away deceit, each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, because we are members belonging to one another." (Eph.4:25) NWT
Don't let your ears witness what your eyes didn't see. Don't let your mouth speak what your heart doesn't feel. Live a honest life for Jehovah!
By Bible Speaks
Children Bring Praise to Jehovah! Lessons From the Bible Teach Us How to Raise Responsible Children Today! -
(Psalm 34:11) . . .Come, listen to me; The fear of Jehovah is what I shall teach YOU."
(Zechariah 8:5) . . .And the public squares of the city themselves will be filled with boys and girls playing in her public squares.’” Young children in Israel knew the joy of relaxation and amusements, sometimes playing in the marketplace, imitating things they had observed while watching grown-ups.—Mt 11:16, 17; Zec 8:5
The parents were the ones responsible for the education and training of their children, they themselves being the instructors and guides, both by word and by example.
The educational program was as follows:
(1) Fear of Jehovah was taught. (Ps 34:11; Pr 9:10)
(2) The child was admonished to honor his father and mother. (Ex 20:12; Le 19:3; De 27:16)
(3)Discipline or instruction in the Law, its commandments and teachings, and education in the activities and revealed truths of Jehovah were diligently inculcated in the impressionable minds of the young offspring.
(De 4:5, 9; 6:7-21; Ps 78:5)
(4) Respect for older persons was stressed. (Le 19:32)
(5) The importance of obedience was indelibly stamped on the youngster’s mind. (Pr 4:1; 19:20; 23:22-25)
(6) Stress was put on practical training for adult living, such as teaching girls to do things around the home, or teaching boys the trade of the father or some other trade.
(7) Education in reading and writing was given.
By Guest Nicole
From Ugandan camp to Lowell, a Congolese family starts again
HARDSHIP, AND HOPE: Sendegeya Bayavuge joins his family, newly arrived from Africa, on the porch of their apartment in Lowell. With him, from left, are Dusenge Tuyishime, 14, Maria Uwimana, 16, Nyirakabanza Muhawenimana, 20, Sarah Nyiramana Bayavuge, 6, their mother, Vanisi Uzamukunda, 43, and Lea Nyiramahoro, 11. See a slide show at lowellsun.com. (SUN / JOHN LOVE)
LOWELL -- The Congolese family's home in Lowell is sparsely decorated, a sign of their recent arrival.
There's no art on the walls, no photos of smiling faces, no toys cluttering the floors. However, there is furniture and food and the basic necessities for a fresh start in the United States.
The family of seven -- father Sendegeya Bayavuge, 52, mother Vanisi Uzamukunda, 43, and five children ages 6-20 -- arrived in early February with help from a resettlement agency. The family had spent the past two decades at a Ugandan refugee camp after fleeing violent unrest in their native Democratic Republic of Congo, a country located in Central Africa.
"I see America as good and I can live in America," said Sendegeya through an
interpreter on a recent Monday afternoon, his hands clasped together as he sat in the corner of the living room. "I see here they have security. The way I was (living in Uganda), I was always in fear ... with security, I find everything good."
Maria Uwimana, 16, sat on a carpet beside her father in the family's second-floor apartment. Three of her siblings, sisters Nyirakabanza Muhawenimana, 20, and Lea Nyiramahoro, 11, and brother Dusenge Tuyishime, 14, sat across the room on a worn, cream-colored couch. The family's "princess," 6-year-old Sarah Nyiramana Bayavuge, nestled onto her mother's lap.
The family was spared in late January from President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration, which in part suspended the refugee admissions program for 120 days. Vanisi recalled hearing about the order as she waited with her family in a hotel for their flight to the United States.
"He said he don't want the guests. We lost the hope to come," Vanisi said through the interpreter. "After the situation changed and we came here, we were happy.
"I'm really grateful that they were not immediately impacted by the proposed suspension of the resettlement program," said Cheryl Hamilton, director of the Lowell site of the International Institute of New England, the agency assigned to resettle the family in partnership with the State Department.
A refugee is someone who has fled from his or her country and cannot return due to fears of persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular group and, according to the State Department. Since 1975 the U.S. has welcomed over 3 million refugees from all over the world. The city of Lowell has received 508 Iraqis, 220 Somalis, 31 Syrians, and 7 Sudanese during the 10-year period from 2007 through January 2017, according to federal data analyzed by the Associated Press.
Hamilton said about half of her staff's cases are refugees from the Congo since the U.S. government committed to accepting 25,000 of them across the country. According to 2009-2013 data on Massachusetts refugee arrivals from the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants, 25 percent of 11,155 refugees admitted in the state hailed from the Congo.
Journey to a new life
It took over 24 hours for Sendegeya, Vanisi and their family to arrive in Lowell. They first stopped in Manchester, N.H. before being brought by resettlement workers to the light yellow multi-family house they now call home.
"In the beginning, we had a fear to fly because it was our first time to go on the airplane," Sendegeya said.
daughters, Maria Uwimana, 16. (SUN / JOHN LOVE)
"After that, we realized we are with other people."
He and Vanisi are bracing for the long road ahead. The children are still waiting to be enrolled in school, and the family as a whole is still struggling with having left their eldest child behind in Uganda. They don't have immediate family here and don't speak English. The language barrier, both parents admit, is a big obstacle they hope to overcome so they can have a better chance at finding jobs to support their family. Back in Uganda, Sendegeya worked as a farmer.
"I think that anybody moving into a new community, you're having to rebuild your entire social network and, with that, obviously being less familiar with employment opportunities or navigating transportation," Hamilton said. "Essentially, you are rebuilding every area of your life."
The United States allocates $925 per individual for the first three months in the country, according to Hamilton. Like with other refugee families the International Institute of New England helps resettle, Sendegeya and Vanisi's family will have access to integration services for the first year and be eligible to come back to the organization for employment services for up to a year and benefit from citizenship services for five years. Hamilton said her staff also offers other programs, such as after-school homework help.
"Obviously, the federal financial assistance is lean and it's remarkable the resiliency and the ability of families to navigate and overcome these challenges," Hamilton said.
Vanisi said her greatest fear involves protecting her children. Recently, while the children played outside, the mother said a neighbor warned them to be quiet and threatened to call the police.
"We saw our neighbor just coming to give us a warning without saying 'Good morning' or 'Welcome,'" Vanisi recalled. "It was just a warning -- 'Kids, shut up!'"
The incident was traumatic for Vanisi, who said her family now spends most of their time inside their home.
"In Uganda, it's different because in Uganda you can play and dance," she said. "Not that kind of warning."
There have been tiny victories through the murkiness. The family found a market with familiar foods and established a friendship with fellow Jehovah's Witnesses in nearby Chelmsford. Twice a week, members of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses pick up the family for meetings.
The four daughters later walked up a flight of stairs to proudly show off their rooms -- Nyirakabanza and Maria in one, and Lea and Sarah in the other. Both rooms are bare except for neatly made twin-sized beds. In Lea and Sarah's closet, there are clothes and several pairs of shoes. The family's only son, Dusenge, has his own room. He remained quiet for the duration of the family's interview and smiled shyly when asked about his thoughts on his new home.
"Right now, what I like and what I have desired, I have found it," he said through the interpreter, his hands fiddling with a pale pink throw. "Everything is OK for me."
Ask the eldest, Nyirakabanza and Maria, what they dream of becoming someday and their eyes light up. Both said they hope to become nurses to help others.
"I'm happy here, but not yet," Nyirakabanza said, later clarifying that she is still sorting out her feelings about the family's new life in America. "I will be happy and confirm the happiness when I see my achievement. My goal is to go to school to continue my education -- to become someone self-sufficient. If I achieve that, I will be very very happy."
SWEET HOME: Sarah Nyiramana Bayavuge, 6, and her sister Lea Nyiramahoro, 11, in their new bedroom. The family was spared in late January from President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration. (SUN / JOHN LOVE)
By Guest Nicole
How do you explain proselytizers to a friendly newcomer?
Our hands were covered in cookie dough and crushed dates when the knock on the door startled us. Safa was not expecting anyone but she seemed happy to see two women in the doorway. The pretty blonde extended a hand and told Safa how happy she was to meet face-to-face after their phone conversation. The perky brunette behind her nodded enthusiastically. I assumed they were parents from the nearby school, dropping in to say hello.
It was smiles all around as I introduced myself, but there was no context given as the blonde handed Safa an iPad and pressed play. And that is when it hit me: these nice women who were heading over to the couch to chat had come with a mission in mind. They were Jehovah’s Witnesses, replete with Arabic literature and videos, who were hoping to “educate” Syrian refugees about the afterlife perks of conversion.
Safa arrived in Canada from Syria by way of Jordan nine months ago. She came with her husband, two sons, and a baby on the way. I am part of a sponsorship group that pooled financial and emotional resources to bring her family to Toronto and support them for a year.
In Syria, Safa was married in her teens, quickly had her two boys, and lived with her parents-in-law. Now she lives in downtown Toronto with her husband, Ziad, and their two boys, now four and two. She piles her kids into a stroller that needs an engineering degree to understand, and traipses around a city with temperatures she doesn’t even have a word for—all in a language she barely knows. On a weekly basis, she is bombarded with texts and visits from a group of Canadian do-gooders who breeze in and out of her life bearing gifts, paperwork, and kindly suggestions.
Safa and I were spending the morning making ma’amoul cookies, a traditional date-filled butter variety. My suggestion of using a measuring cup was met with disdain that I didn’t need help translating. Her system of using an empty labnah (yogurt) container worked just fine. We sat on the floor—a bit awkward for this middle-aged Canadian—rolling out cookies while chatting and gossiping with Google Translate as our invisible third. Her toddler ran around causing trouble, while the baby slept in a swing. The experience of baking together was so natural and familiar to Safa; it was the most relaxed I had seen her in months. That is, until the knock on the door.
The two women who sat on the couch didn’t seem to care about Safa’s lack of English, or that she was wearing a hijab and is an observant Muslim. They prattled on about Jesus, never pausing to see if she understood. But with pamphlets and video in Arabic, it was clear this wasn’t their first stop on their conversion crusade—likely a coordinated effort targeting the Syrian newcomers. They then began telling me about the connections between Christianity and Islam, as if all I needed was a little enlightenment and I too would join forces.
I can only imagine what Safa was thinking as I chastised the women for going after a vulnerable population that has an ample sense of hospitality. I kept smiling, as did they, but you wouldn’t need one word of English to understand that we were having a disagreement. When I told them they couldn’t come back, they dropped the facade of generic pleasantness. The blonde practically snarled at me saying that since Safa invited them, they could return as often as they like.
Safa stood there with teacups in hand looking bewildered. Google Translate and I tried to explain about Jehovah’s Witnesses, but a round of charades couldn’t quite get the message across that those nice white women wanted her to abandon her religion—one of the last remaining constants from her life in Syria. I told her that they were selling Christian Bibles.
She nodded at me, smiling, but I recognized the perplexed shrug she gave me. It is the look of resignation when confronted with another ridiculous Canadian habit, such as tobogganing in sub-zero snowstorms, strapping screaming children into car seats, or using measuring cups while baking. She has been in Toronto for nine months and a couple of pretty, white women in her apartment telling her what to do no longer surprises her. Sometimes, I am amazed that she lets any of us past her doorstep.
We went back to our dough, and Safa schooled me for my clumsy rolling technique.
Emma Waverman (@emmawaverman) writes for Reader’s Digest, Today’s Parent, Canadian Living.
By Guest Nicole
LOWELL — The Congolese refugees huddled rapt around a stove in the early morning darkness. They had never used one before, and they watched in their new home Friday as a resettlement worker flipped the burners off and on.
They had never used a refrigerator, either. Or seen water pass through a faucet. Or been told how to lock a door. Or adjust a thermostat. Or even how to squeeze shampoo from a tube.
Twenty years in a refugee camp in Uganda will insulate a family from everyday conveniences that Americans take for granted. But here they were, bewildered and grateful — a mother, father, and five children who received a waiver from President Trump’s ban on new arrivals.
“We heard no more refugees could come to America. So, for us to come to America, we are very happy,” the 43-year-old matriarch, Vanisi Uzamukunda, said through an interpreter as she held a sleepy 7-year-old.
After Trump’s executive order last week barred new refugees for 120 days, the family worried whether this day would ever happen. But they were allowed entry because government officials determined that a delay in their scheduled journey would have caused significant hardship, resettlement officials said.
Hardship has been a constant. Their lives were shattered two decades ago when the parents fled unending violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But here was a fresh start only a 28-hour, continent-hopping odyssey away from their home in Uganda.
The family landed late Thursday night in Manchester, N.H., and then were ferried by resettlement workers to a two-floor apartment in Lowell. But even that simple drive showed the chasm between their former life and the one unfolding before them.
They did not know how to open the car doors, or how to fasten a seat belt. And when they finally stepped out of the cars into 20-degree temperatures, they saw snow for the first time.
“Now that we are in Lowell, this is our destination. We are finished,” said the oldest child, 20-year-old Nyirakabanza Muhawenimana, who took the lead in questioning workers from the International Institute of New England, the resettlement agency.
She asked whether the family could wash clothes in the tub. No, take them to a laundromat, replied case manager Sabyne Denaud, who emigrated from Haiti.
And so it went: Here is where the trash goes, make sure you lock the doors at night, do not let the children out alone, and call 911 on the apartment phone if there is an emergency.
“This is the first time they have lived in a house,” said Suad Mansour, a Lowell High School teacher who was one of four people to greet the family at the airport.
Suad Mansour explained shampoo to Nyirakabanza, 20, and her family at their new home in Lowell.
Mansour, who immigrated to the United States from Jordan, led the family on an initial tour of the apartment about 1 a.m. Friday. After they slept for a few hours, Denaud arrived later in the morning and refreshed their memories.
“You don’t have to worry about the new president,” Denaud said. “You don’t have to worry about anything. You are safe here.”
The family will receive a one-time $925 stipend per person from the federal government to help pay for rent and other basic necessities, but they are expected to become self-sufficient within six months.
“You have to keep your house nice and clean,” Denaud said. “You never know who’s going to come to the apartment.”
The International Institute, which last fiscal year resettled 623 refugees who had fled war and persecution in several countries, will help the family find work, enroll in school, register for Social Security, and learn English.
The challenges are daunting — the family does not speak English, for one. But regular follow-up will ease the transition to a strange country, said Tea Psorn, a program manager from the institute who came to the United States as a Bosnian refugee in the 1990s.
“These people only want safety,” Psorn said.
Their vetting process took nearly three years, the family said. A total of 684 Congolese refugees arrived in Massachusetts from 2011 to 2015, according to the state Department of Public Health.
In Lowell on Friday, after hours of explanation and advice from Mansour and Denaud, 16-year-old Maria Uwimana floated a final question: Where can we find a church?
The family members are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Maria’s query was answered a short time later when a small group of well-wishers suddenly entered the living room and welcomed the new arrivals with hugs and conversation in Swahili.
They, too, are Jehovah’s Witnesses and had been at a gas station only a block away when the day’s interpreter, former Congolese refugee Kafila Bulimwengu, called to tell them about the newcomers.
Approximately a dozen Congolese have already joined Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in nearby Chelmsford, said Markus Lewis, who is part of a church group that has learned Swahili to communicate with African worshipers.
Lewis shook hands with Sendegeya Bayavuge, the family’s 52-year-old father, who gradually began to relax as the day wore on. At the airport, sitting with his children after the grueling trip, he appeared exhausted and apprehensive.
But in the apartment, as each new wonder was demonstrated, the creases in Sendegeya’s face began to soften.
“There will be safety here. There will be a difference,” said Sendegeya, who had been a farmer in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Some worries remain, however: One daughter still lives in a Ugandan camp.
“Life was very bad in the camp; there were many problems,” including food shortages, Sendegeya said. “We pray to God to help those who are still in the camps to come here.”
Still, Friday was a glorious day for this close-knit family, which seemed humbled into silence by its introduction to the United States.
Nyirakabanza, the oldest child, was the outgoing exception: asking questions and trying each new knob and handle for herself.
She even practiced putting a trash bag in place.
“It’s a new life,” she said, breaking into a broad, beaming smile. “I feel happy to be in America.”
By Bible Speaks
"Every man must be swift about hearing, slow about speaking, slow about wrath.”
Generally, children love their parents, and parents love their children. This is especially true among God’s people.
Some families agree to spend less time watching television or using the computer.
Others decide to eat at least one meal together each day.
Family worship is a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to get to know one another better as they study the Bible together.
The Bible says: “A person’s thoughts are like water in a deep well, but someone with insight can draw them out.” (Proverbs 20:5, Today’s English Version)
When anyone is replying to a matter before he hears it, that is foolishness on his part and a humiliation.” (Proverbs 18:13)
If you stay calm and listen, you may be able to understand the reason for your child’s “wild talk.” (Job 6:1-3)
You can help your child only if you understand the whole situation. As loving parents, listen to your children and try to understand them so that you can say something that really helps them. 4 No greater joy do I have than this: that I should hear that my children go on walking in the truth." (3 John 4)
We will make mistakes. So be quick to say “I’m sorry.” Forgive freely. “Be harmoniously joined together in love.” (Colossians 2:2)
Love has power. It helps us to be patient and kind. Love helps us to stay calm and to forgive. “It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
If you keep showing love, communication in your family will get better and better. This will make you happy and will honor Jehovah.
By Guest Nicole
Dorking residents inspired to life-changing response to migration crisis
Kristin and Peter Nevins came to Dorking from the US and piled their four children into two bedrooms so they could begin hosting refugees © Anna Gordon
“If they ask, say you’re my nephew,” Constance Nash advised the young Syrian man staying with her, in case he encountered an unfriendly neighbour.
Ms Nash has a lot of foreign guests this year at her home in Dorking, a leafy town in the Surrey hills about an hour’s train ride south of London.
First came the Eritrean woman who was 28 weeks pregnant and then the wounded Syrian soldier and his Congolese friend, who had been sleeping rough.
Then there were the Syrian and Sudanese teenagers. “They said they came on the train,” Ms Nash said. “Not in the train, on the train.”
There was George from Ghana and Jean from the Congo and the Zimbabwean and Sudanese, and Ahmad, a soft-spoken pharmacist from Aleppo who stayed for five months.
Ms Nash refers to them not as refugees but “guests”. She and a motley group of nearby residents have been hosting them during the past year to make their modest response to the global migration crisis and fill the sizeable gaps left by the British government.
Constance Nash: 'It’s not charity. At all. It’s human solidarity.' © Anna Gordon
“It’s not charity. At all. It’s human solidarity,” said Ms Nash, who — like her guests — is a foreigner who never expected to land in Dorking. A frenetic Parisian, she moved to the town 17 years ago after marrying an Englishman and then ended up staying after the marriage ended.
She hates the idea of spinning her experience into a feel-good story, insisting: “We don’t do cute in Dorking.”
“Actually, we do,” corrected her friend Carmel O’Shea, who was seated in Ms Nash’s kitchen-cum-salon on a recent afternoon. Also passing through were Syrian and Congolese refugees, a gaggle of schoolchildren and neighbours, a tattooed Anglican curate and his wife, a pair of cats and an unusually active turtle.
Britain has pledged to accept 20,000 Syrian refugees. The government selects families from UN camps and meticulously screens them before offering asylum, housing, English lessons and a living allowance.
But that ignores many others — from Syria and elsewhere — who arrive in the UK on their own. Some come with fake passports, or hidden in the back of trucks using the Channel tunnel.
In theory, these people can claim asylum and, if necessary, receive government lodging. But in practice, many become trapped in a suspicious, slow-moving bureaucracy. In the interim, they may end up sleeping on church floors, in hospital emergency rooms or even on London’s night buses, as Jean sometimes did.
The Nevins talk to Constance Nash in her kitchen. All three are part of the Dorking Group of local hosts © Anna Gordon
“If it’s not deliberate then it’s the least competent government ever,” said Peter Nevins, a curate at the local Anglican church.
He and his wife, Kristin — both from the US Midwest — moved to Dorking in August and piled their four children into two bedrooms so they could begin hosting. First came a Nigerian man, who stayed for a few days, and then a Syrian jeweller and baker, who had become friends in Calais’ infamous “jungle” migrant camp, and stayed for a few weeks.
“The rooms should be filled, as far as I’m concerned,” Kristin shrugged.
The Dorking Group, as the 10 local hosts informally call themselves, take referrals from an Epsom-based charity known as Refugees At Home, which has its own web page and Facebook group. The guests are first screened by the Red Cross and Refugee Council. Refugees At Home visits the hosts to check them, too.
“Everyone just acts as if it’s going to be a friend’s friend [staying],”said Ms Nash, who first contacted Refugees At Home in August last year after reading about Icelanders pledging to house 11,000 refugees. “I got all agitated and said: ‘Let’s do it in England.’”
Still, she recalled fretting after being briefed on her first arrival. “What if we don’t like her? She has nightmares. What if she sleepwalks?” Her son, Raph, 15, also confessed he was “a bit worried” about sharing the house with a stranger.
But those fears melted. “When it clicks, it feels like the most normal thing you’ve ever done,” Ms Nash said. So much so that Raph’s school friend went home one day and asked his mother, Ms O’Shea, why they were not hosting any refugees.
“I was hugely apprehensive. I wouldn’t even do French exchange with my kids,” Ms O’Shea said.
Ahmad, a Syrian pharmacist, spent 10 months in the Calais 'jungle' before making it to the UK © Anna Gordon
But she ended up opening her home to Mohammad, a 22-year-old Iranian builder — and sobbing when he left five months later. “I think we thought we were offering someone a room. It’s much more than that,” she said.
Besides the humanity of it, hosting has wider benefits, the Dorking Group argues. Chief among them is that it speeds refugees’ integration, immersing them in the culture and language and making it easier for them to build their own lives if they win asylum.
“It’s things like: why are the English always talking about the weather?” said David Preedy, a retired project manager. “It’s the kind of thing you don’t get going through the faceless, official scheme.”
For Ahmad, the Syrian pharmacist, Ms Nash’s home was a refuge after a harrowing journey. He fled Aleppo in 2013 as the war intensified, paying a smuggler €1,050 to take him from Turkey to Greece. His nose was broken by bandits in Macedonia, where he was jailed. He also spent 10 months in the Calais “jungle” before making it to Britain.
David Preedy, a retired project manager, has just had his first refugee to stay
“When I stay in Dorking, I feel I am among my family,” he said in halting English.
His asylum request was finally approved last week. But he appeared more focused on the news back home, repeatedly returning to a smartphone with images of bloodied corpses and rubble.
Dorking has not been universally welcoming. When Ms Nash posted leaflets promoting her work around town they were torn down.
Even the best-intentioned hosts admit they can become worn out. The Iranian family of Jehovah’s Witnesses that Mr Preedy and his wife took in ended up staying for nearly nine months.
In addition to expenses for bus and train fares and food, Mr Preedy became drawn into the bureaucratic tangle of jobcentres, immigration law and the challenges of opening a bank account. “We saw them through the whole asylum process, which is mind-blowingly depressing,” he said. Still, he came away uplifted. “It’s given me a completely different perspective on people,” he said.
Ms Nash also sounded transformed. “You really do connect and then it rips you apart when they leave,” she said. “But you know? It’s good sorrow, good sadness.”
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For anyone who is interested in reading the final report from the Australian Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse
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