I was myself once a refugee — actually I was a refugee twice. On New Year’s Day 1942 my mother with my two-year-old sister in her arms, my eight-year-old brother, and I (age seven), were rushed by Pop (as we always called our father) to the last ship leaving Rangoon before the Japanese occupation of Burma. The Japanese had already begun bombing Rangoon, so the ship, expecting another bombing, was already in mid-stream, and a police launch took us out to it just in time. We left everything, except what Mother and her three children could carry. We left Pop on the dock. (He walked out some months later.) Arriving in Calcutta we were taken in by British Baptist missionaries. Then by American Presbyterians in Allahabad.
Three and a half years later we were still refugees as we boarded the Swedish liner Gripsholm in Bombay with other dispirited Americans returning to the USA. We stopped only once – in Piraeus – to rescue one hundred Greek war refugees. On the rest of the voyage there was music and dancing every night. When we arrived in New York the American Red Cross was there to meet us – a great surprise to my brother and me to realize that we, also, were refugees.
Refugees – like my father and mother and little sister and older brother and myself and those dancing Greeks – are just people. People who need and deserve all the help we can give them.
My dear friend Kiran Verma has a vision of “a world where everyone has … a safe and secure home in which to live” (THE MESSAGE, page 105).I share Kiran’s vision and believe that it can AND WILL be realized.
I’ve written to my two senators — Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell — suggesting that the United States charter two cruise ships (with all their crew and services) to ply between Piraeus and Philadelphia bringing as many people as possible to our country, and continuing this support as long as needed..
Please scroll down to “Leave a Reply” to share your ideas about how we can best help the current flood of refugees from Syria and other parts of the world.