Archive for the ‘refugees’ Category

“Immigration” vs “Migration” – confusion?

Dear Friends for Life:   Many news articles use the words refugees, migrants and asylum seekers when reporting on the movement of people. Japan Times headline this morning – “Japan to limit work permits for asylum seekers from 2018” – talks about asylum seekers who file for refugee status in order to work as immigrants in the country. The number of applications has jumped from 1,202 in 2012 to nearly 17,000 in 2017. But only 28 people were recognized as refugees in 2016, causing much international criticism that Japan is closed to refugees. On the other hand, Japan has over one million foreign workers who are referred to as “Immigrants”. Are these workers really “Immigrants” or “Migrants”?. What’s the difference? Or is there? Continue reading

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow?

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are reminded that God is with us on our individual life journeys and that we too are called to accompany others on theirs.

During the Advent season leading up to Christmas, we are invited to contemplate a young pregnant woman with her husband who left their home and faced a journey of difficulty and uncertainty.

The Holy Family was a family of MIGRANTS. Jesus was born in a stable outside Bethlehem, on the “wrong side of the tracks”, as they say nowadays. There was no welcome for his pregnant mother and her husband. The doors and hearts of the day were closed to them.

Jesus was born in the poorest and humblest of settings and not long after his birth, he became a REFUGEE. Fearing for their lives, his parents fled with him to Egypt. Continue reading

One Solitary Life

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself…

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress. Continue reading

Sexual Exploitation of Children in Japan

Dear Friends for Life:   The current population of Japan is a little over 127 million, of which approximately 25 million are children under the age of 18. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child is defined as anyone under the age of 18. Japan is a major destination, source, and transit country for children subjected to sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. Continue reading

Imagine a world more open to refugees

Today is the most important day in the lives of Refugees. Why? Because tomorrow never comes. It is today that they are forced to flee war, persecution and violence. It is today that they need safety and assurance that other human beings stand with them. Among the basic needs of refugee families today is a safe place to live. In reality, this should not be classified as a need, but as a basic human right which applies to all human beings today. Continue reading

Humanitarian Crisis looms in Scary Flights

Dear Friends for Life:  Reading daily about the suffering of refugees, we conclude that no one chooses to flee their home. Forced to depart suddenly, it is impossible for people to apply for the necessary papers and visas required to travel. This results in a growing number of persons who have no alternative but to choose potentially hazardous methods to slip away –  by foot, by boat or by being smuggled out.

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Voices Crying Out in the Wilderness

Dear Friends for Life:  Poet Warsan Shire hit a nerve  recently with this evocative stanza from her poem “Home”. No one leaves home unless / home is the mouth of a shark. You only run for the border / when you see the whole city / running as well.” and “no one puts their children in a boat / unless the water is safer than the land.”

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No Place To Call Home

Dear Friends for Life:  Sidah Hawa stares towards the horizon. The scorching sun filters through the sparse shade of the tree under which she sits. Her six children huddle close as she breastfeeds Asanti, her 18-month-old baby. “I have suffered a great deal; these past few days have been really bad,” she says after a long silence. “I didn’t have enough food. I had raw cassava. This is what I fed my children. When they were tired, we rested then I gave them some water.” Continue reading

Refugees are not statistics

Dear Friends for Life:    

The UN estimates that about 60 million people are displaced forcibly in the world. Would these people be called “Refugees” or “Migrants”? Online news as well as the mass media use these terms interchangeably, yet there is a great difference which affects our approach when tackling this problem. Continue reading

Families Torn Apart

Dear Friends for Life,   While many of us live in the comfort of safety, our Yazidi brothers and sisters in Iraq continue to face starvation, lack of water, and threats to their safety. Fleeing from Mt. Sinjar, hundreds and thousands search for safety today in Iraq’s northern regions. Continue reading