The United States has a long history of taking in foreigners fleeing persecution and seeking a better life. In recent times refugees have come to be perceived as a threat of terrorism by many, while others welcome them as a source of diversity and eager to work hard to succeed. The result has been that taking in refugees has become a very divisive topic.
This book seeks to help elevate the conversation by presenting the stories of refugees from their personal perspectives and providing context and historical background. Colorado, with the major focus of Denver, is home to many refugees and is a state where the political spectrum is represented. Distinctions are clarified among groups and terms included in conversations concerning legal and undocumented immigration and public officials offer their insights, as well as political rhetoric that has framed the contemporary debate.
The experience of refugees who come to Colorado reflects the experience of refugees in America, so this constitutes a discussion of the refuge situation in the U.S. To better understand this requires viewing it from the refugees’ standpoints, knowing the conditions that caused them to flee or forced them out of their homelands, hearing about life in refugee camps, the resettlement process and relocation in the U.S. and challenges of adjustment to a new life in a new country. These experiences are best explained by refugees in their own words. Refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Congo, Vietnam, Bhutan, Russia, various ethnic groups of Burma, including Rohingya, tell their stories, some involving imprisonment and torture and all having been forced to flee their homelands through no choice of their own. Historical and current discussion presents American attitudes regarding “outsiders” coming to the nation’s shores.
From The Book:
Learning to face fear was a part of the life young Darcie coped with during this time. There were tigers in the jungle that roared at night, and internal worries and difficulties in the camp.
A special challenge and a new type of fear presented itself when her mother’s medical complications left her deranged and hysterical for a time. It was a result of living a life hiding in the jungle, away from professional medical care, and a great demand not only on the mother but on her daughter.
Drucie’s mother had another baby, and this one died in her womb. The retained fetus eventually became physically septic and released toxins in her. She was hallucinating from it, a considerable stress on Drucie. Her mother demanded that she burn all of their clothes in her ravings. Drucie obliged.
Drucie was developing the character necessary for the role she would take on early. Struggle and suffering would be a part of it. Drucie says of the Burmese, “They don’t really feel the pain because they didn’t go through what we went through. You only feel it when someone cut you, when you know the pain.”
She was a naturally curious person and few career options were available for women. Being a teacher or nurse seemed to be her choices, and she chose to become a teacher. She rose through the ranks of the Karen Women’s Organization and married the son of another resistance leader when she was 20. They had two children, a boy, Len, and a girl, Mu. They were a successful young family in a poor country so they could afford babysitters, cooks, drivers. Still, Drucie lived in fear. She was fatalistic from the time she moved to the resistance camp, saying, “If you want to be a leader in Burma, you have to consider yourself a dead person, because then you will be willing to fight.”
She had grown into a woman in a resistance camp where tribes tried to hold off the autocratic rule of the military junta in power. According to her children, things changed in April 1995 when Burmese soldiers seized the jungle community where they were located, torched houses and shot the villagers. Drucie’s daughter, Mu, said, “When you start hearing gunshots, the human instinct is to just run,” and her son, Len, added that the only things their mother had time to grab were a Bible, some crackers and a bottle of water.
From The Author:
This book about refugees is a niche that appears to be untapped. It combines the intimacy of memoir by telling the personal stories of many refugees with academic rigor of research into their homelands and U.S. politics and history. When combined, this depicts both the struggles and triumphs of refugees fleeing or forced from their homelands and settling in America in the current political climate.