Several months ago, one of our teammates shared about Friends of Refugees at church. Shortly after, Oksana reached out saying she wanted to connect with Embrace. She worked at the Ukrainian Cultural Center near Atlanta. At her request, I agreed to go and share about our work.
When I arrived, about a dozen Ukrainian women were at the Center. One was visibly pregnant. Children were running around.
As I asked the group a few questions, I learned that many had only been in the USA for a few months. Most had partners, husbands, family, still in Ukraine.
After a short presentation, they asked a thousand questions:
“What will the doctor do when I am in labor?”
“How do I access health insurance coverage?”
“How do I find a good doctor for my children?”
“How much will the hospital charge me?”
At first, the utterly pragmatic nature of their questions caught me off guard. Then, I realized: these were the questions of mothers who were doing their best to put a life together for their families. These were the questions of women who wanted to give their children a sense of normalcy in an impossible situation.
The time to sit with them to hear their stories would come.
First, they needed to find their footing. They needed information. They needed support from women like them.
As I shared the information I could, I thought of the other women on our staff team and women who we’ve served. They understand what these Ukrainian women are going through better than I do. Possibly better than I ever will, since none of us really knows if we will be forced to flee our homes one day.
At that moment, I felt a wave of deep gratitude for our New American staff. The women and men on our team from all over the world who come in to serve others with kindness and skill. Because they know what it’s like.
They know the relief of someone reaching out to help answer questions. They know the impact of a friendly, knowledgeable face who speaks your language – someone who knows your home, your food, your culture.
They know that in a moment where it’s so easy to feel completely alone, having a friend come alongside you, committing to walk with you, as you rebuild a life for your family, is the most powerful thing in the world.
I am proud to play a small role in connecting New American women to friends like these, and I am grateful for people like you, who make these moments possible.