We completed Restoring Dignity #6 at 11:25pm on Sunday, June 9th, 2013, and while it was one of our longer projects, it was definitely one of the most rewarding. The family we came to bless recently came to America, after spending 8 years in a refugee camp. Having been forced from their home country of Somalia due to extreme violence between war lords, this family sought refuge and a new beginning here in our own Omaha, Nebraska.
When I first met this family, they graciously welcomed me into their home, and I immediately knew that they would be our next RD family. A week prior to my visit, this family of eleven had one bed, no furniture, no chairs…and the mother was 8 months pregnant. Imagine carrying around 7 pounds of baby, taking care of 9 children, and having to eat and sleep on the floor…Remembering back to my own pregnancies, I hoarded a minimum of 3 pillows every night, slept with multiple comforters, ate whatever I wanted, and had the option of sleeping on the bed, recliner, or couch, depending on how my back was feeling. I complained the whole time. Now, looking at the plight of other pregnant women in the world (and in our own city!), I realize how ridiculously cush of a life I live.
Restoring Dignity did not start on purpose. Through a very tragic event, we became aware of human rights issues within our city, and decided that if we did nothing, we would be turning our backs on the very people God calls us to love.
One of my favorite quotations of all times comes from a man who personally knew human rights issues all too well. His name is Martin Luther King Jr, and he gave the following sermon the day before he was assassinated, which was based on the Good Samaritan parable:
“And so the first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
Restoring Dignity aims to ask the question, “If we do not help those in need, what will happen to them?” It is a difficult question to ask, because it is not comfortable. It is risky. It means sacrificing a lot of time, energy, and resources. After every Restoring Dignity I fall two days behind in school. My feet hurt, my back hurts, everything hurts. My kids bedtime gets thrown off, because they are usually there with me till we are finished. All of our volunteers experience the same thing. The donors give their household items away- I know one woman who has given over half of her furniture to these families. It’s not “normal” in our culture to give away everything that we are told that we need to acquire. It feels strange. It is not the “American Dream.” But it is very much worth it knowing that you can give to families who have never had like we have.
These families are the true heroes- they have endured horrible violence, have traveled hundreds of miles fleeing persecution, have lived in squalled conditions in refugee camps, have given birth with no medical personnel…they deserve everything we give them and so much more.
And so we press on, and I ask of everyone, myself included, to always ask the question: “What will happen to them, if we do not stop and help?”
Restoring Dignity, Co-Founder