My personal plea for refugee children


Roughly 100 facilities house 100,000+ migrant children. Their safety? Uncertain. Their reunion with their families? Uncertain. The amount of emotional damage done? Uncertain.

I want to be clear: this is neither an attack on Trump, nor a political piece on immigration policies. To be simply put, this is my personal plea for refugee kids and the predicament they in no way got themselves into.

Over the summer, I worked at a horse therapy camp for refugee kids where, once a week, fifteen or so eager kids would be bussed over to learn more about the world around them. Although at first, they were shy, their vibrant personalities and boisterous conviviality soon overcame their nerves and initial masks of silence. Their zest for life was absolutely adorable, and like most kids their age, their instinctual curiosity always got the best of them.

Each week with them was a new adventure, and lessons varied from learning how seeds grow to watching how caterpillars turn into butterflies to understanding the dos and don’ts of being around horses. It was a learning experience for both the volunteers and the kids because as we were teaching them about our world, they were letting us into theirs. We learned about their home lives and the communities and cultures they left behind when they came to the U.S. We fell in love with each and every kid who hopped off the bus and barreled toward us for a hug or a high five.

Now, every kid had a name tag lanyard that we would hand out before the activities started, and if a kid was missing we would know because there would be leftover name tags. Week after week, the bus would come, carrying the kids who were all smiles and pure joy; but week after week, we noticed there were fewer and fewer kids. What once began as a group of fifteen or so was downgraded to a much smaller and intimate group of kids. Curious as to why so few kids were showing up, I asked the teacher that accompanied them on these outings about their absences. The answer was simple: deportation.

Going from making clay faces with kids and teaching them how to lead a horse, to realizing that I would never see those sweet kids’ faces again was absolutely devastating and heartbreaking. In addition to my not knowing what was going to happen to them, they themselves also didn’t know what their future would hold; this fact broke my heart into a million pieces.

Through seeing their plight first hand, I became increasingly more passionate about the struggles refugees face. Many of them have experienced so much tragedy first-hand and yet have still been able to pick themselves up every time their lives faltered. As cliche as it sounds, seeing what their situations and backgrounds are is key to a deeper understanding and awareness about immigration controversy. By spending so much time with the refugee kids, I realized that there is so much more going on than what we can see from our Forest Hills area and that opening my heart and lavishing so much love on them was necessary to fully feel the weight of the crisis ahead.