Grab your bag! We have to leave NOW!
Charlotte is one of 11 cities in the US that resettle world refugees. Refugees are forced to flee their homes due to famine, persecution, and civil war. Refugees in Charlotte are among the most vulnerable people in the world, and their children have only a 3% chance of graduating high school and going to college. They are the most at risk of all marginalized living in our city. The refugee children at The Nest all have great needs. The common thread that weaves the tapestry of the Nest is trauma on trauma creating a certain type of student, and that is why we created a Nest to nurture the whole child.
Although the stories of our students and their families differ, the conflicts and emergencies in their countries causing them to flee are uniquely tragic and unbelievable. They add valuable intel into what our students have faced before resettling in Charlotte and coming to The Nest. The insight we can gain into understanding their cultures aids in our efforts and how we care for, educate and nurture them.
Knowledge is power. The desperate plea of “Grab your bag. We have to leave NOW” has resonated in nearly every single ear of our students. And, equally as trauma-inducing are the moments leading up to that conversation. All so devastating, yet a reality, and we see it in behavior, demeanors, classrooms, and playing out daily.
Trauma on trauma, I just cannot imagine. Although I have experienced this with so many families for so long, it never gets easier to comprehend or less of an emotional burden to carry. Each new story drives me to my knees in humility and gratitude for the safety, security, and hope we, as Americans, are afforded, which can so easily take for granted. The call to action awaits.
Hard to Fathom
I cannot imagine having to uproot my children in the middle of the night to flee on foot, risking being tortured, abused, or worse murdered, only to escape to a refugee camp to ‘live’ for an unknown time period (sometimes years and decades) while hoping for relief and refuge elsewhere (no idea where that will be),then traveling to an unknown and foreign land (with only the bag on your back, if you had time to gather one, and the loved ones with you).
The next stage of the journey of trauma would be resettled in a new country, which the trek alone would have been devastating to any family, having lost your home, identity, and perhaps even loved ones, to face language, and cultural barriers, financial fears (No bank account, income, or fallback) and the list goes on and on.
Congolese Refugee Camp
Can you Imagine?
It is hard, even for me, after 22 years of working intimately with families who have traveled this refugee journey.
“Refugees didn’t just escape a place. They had to escape a thousand memories until they’d put enough time and distance between them and their misery to wake to a better day.” “It is the obligation of every person born in a safer room to open the door when someone in danger knocks.”
The Struggle is Real
Refugee families have a tough battle. Already navigating at a disadvantage, they, too, face the rigorous demands of living in the US. They experience mental health crises, fear, hopelessness, and desperate as they try to begin a new life, even though they have no choice but to flee.
Hope is a heartbeat away, literally. You can help, and you can make a tremendous difference in the lives of those we serve. It takes a village and now more than ever, we are calling on the strength of our community to lend a hand as we work to meet the great needs of a very deserving population, of which we get to serve.
Please reach out to me for ways that we can utilize your time, treasures or gifts.
Every single minute, dollar and prayer is essential to aid in our efforts to educate, sustain and aid in the upward mobility of the refugees in our care in our city.
Just go to www.thenestacademy.org/give/ or www.thenestacademy.org/volunteer/ OR you can email me for more ways to help [email protected].
BELOW are four of the emergencies leading to why some families at The Nest come to the US.
Four of The Nest Refugee Families- Countries of Origin Emergencies
1) The Central African Republic (CAR) Emergency
One of the world’s poorest countries and has been among the 10 most under-reported humanitarian crises for 5 years in a row.It has been troubled by unrest for years, but since May 2017, fresh and fierce clashes between armed groups have wrought increasing suffering, deaths and destruction of property. Violence and insecurity following the December 2020 general election has forced tens of thousands more to flee.
2) South Sudan Emergency
Since December 2013, brutal conflict in South Sudan has claimed thousands of lives and driven nearly four million people from their homes. While many remain displaced inside the country, more than two million have fled to neighboring countries in a desperate bid to reach safety. Millions of people in Afghanistan are experiencing misery and hunger amid decades of conflict, the collapse of the country’s economy, years of drought, and freezing wintertime temperatures.
Nest students Rhoda, Merry and family from South Sudan
The situation in South Sudan and neighboring countries has quickly escalated into a full-blown humanitarian emergency. Although we are doing all we can to provide relief and life-saving shelter with limited resources, displacement in the region is expected to rise until a political solution is found. The majority of the refugees are women and children, many of whom flee across the border alone. Often, they arrive weak and malnourished. When the rainy season comes, their needs are compounded by flooding, food shortages and disease.
Inside South Sudan,nearly twomillion people are displaced while outside the country there are now over two million South Sudanese refugees, mainly in Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda. Many fear imminent attack or struggle with food insecurity.
3) Afghanistan Emergency
Afghanistan, which has endured repeated humanitarian crises, faces its darkest time. UNHCR and its partners have launched joint response plans to deliver vital humanitarian relief. 24 million people inside Afghanistan and 5.7 million Afghans and host communities in five neighboring countries who need support. Half of Afghanistan’s population experiences acute hunger.
Some 3.5 million people are displaced due to conflict, and many children are out of school. The health care system is collapsing, the fundamental rights of women and girls are under threat, farmers and herders are struggling amidst the climate crisis, and the economy is in free fall. The conflict has subsided, but violence, fear, and deprivation continue to send Afghans across borders, particularly in Iran and Pakistan. Millions of people in Afghanistan are experiencing misery and hunger amid decades of conflict, the collapse of the country’s economy, years of drought, and freezing wintertime temperatures.
Nest Academy Afghan Refugees Iqra and Marwa
4) Democratic Republic of the Congo Emergency
Fresh waves of unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have displaced an estimated 5 million people between 2017 and 2019 – namely in the Kasai, Tanganyika, Ituri and Kivu regions. Hundreds of thousands more have fled to Angola, Zambia and other neighboring countries.People are fleeing their homes at a worrying pace, as worsening violence destroys lives and livelihoods across the country.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a complex and challenging humanitarian situation, with multiple conflicts affecting several parts of its vast territory. Hopes soared after a long and costly civil war was brought to an end in 2003, but the nation has instead seen sporadic waves of fighting – especially in the Eastern parts of the country. Since 2016, a new wave of violence also affected the DRC’s Kasai region, a vast area in the south and center of the country. Now, thousands of civilians are struggling for survival. Although many people have returned to areas in the Kasai region and elsewhere, they have often found their property, businesses, and schools in ruins and family members killed. Human rights violations are still widespread, including physical mutilation, killings, sexual violence, arbitrary arrest, and detention in inhumane conditions. While these conflicts have forced many Congolese to flee their homes, the country also hosts over half a million refugees from neighboring countries. It continues to see new arrivals from Burundi, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan. The risk of further displacement is high, as conflicts affect many areas. Protection needs, particularly for the most vulnerable, are enormous, and the challenges of getting aid to those in need are increasing. Strengthening public health, sanitation, and water supplies to prevent diseases remains vital.
Lena, Jacque, Hassan, Kapi and Baraka- Nest students from the DRC
Written by MC Hildreth, Nest Academy Founder and Head of School