What ELSE did I learn from our conversation about working with refugees and asylum seekers?

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Last week I posted about the challenge I felt from Brad Chilcot’s call to appreciate the polarities in people by starting out from areas of mutuality rather than adversary.

But this wasn’t all I learned from that conversation.

My other big take away could be summed up in the words of one of our participants:

“We are one community standing together- not two groups trying to understand one another” -Karen

This language of reciprocity (a willingness for authentic exchange) and of mutual hospitality (offering what is most valuable to me; to you) came out in all the stories we heard on the day.  Rather than being seen as “other” or “person in need” the significance of being appreciated, honoured and empowered to contribute in and to community were hugely significant elements.  These were stories of movements lead both in voice and deed (not just consulted) by those they are seeking to empower.  This can not be underestimated.

The most challanging words of the day (for me) came when one participant voiced:

“At what point do people stop being ‘refugees’ and ‘asylum seekers’ and … any other label?”

It was a brilliant question and I think the answer we came to was: people only stop being “other” when they become friend.  When “they” gain a name, an identity and a significant place in our lives, our homes and our community of belonging.

What does this mean for your community?

If you were at our gathering were there any other significant learnings that stood out for you?

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