Before Life Raft officially began, our vice president, Michael Hoyt, befriended three refugee families from Sri Lanka. Over the next few years, Michael and his wife poured themselves into these families’ lives. They ensured that they always had enough food and a place to stay. These were the first families Life Raft ever helped, and we’ve continued to walk with them as we have expanded and added more and more families. Recently, the mothers of two of these families, Martha and Diana, who are quite close, were visiting each other. Then the nightmare happened. Police raided the apartment, taking Martha and Diana, along with both of Diana’s daughters. Once in the detention center, Diana became very ill, and had two choices: Face her serious illness in an inhumane, filthy prison, or return to the country of nightmares, where she could receive medical treatment.
I don’t know how you would choose between those options, but Diana chose to safeguard her health, and returned to Sri Lanka with her children. Martha remains in the IDC, hoping on the faint dream of obtaining refugee status. Her children are still in Bangkok, cared for by friends and safe for the time-being.
It’s really tough to know how to respond in situations like these. We have been fighting for these families for years, and in many ways, it feels like we failed. But when I look at our work, I know we did the right thing. When we step into the lives of such a marginalized population, we have to be willing to face their pain with them. When we are willing to expose ourselves like that, we are doing the right thing, the courageous thing. And yes, when we know their pain, we hurt. But if we orient our lives around avoiding pain, we are not really living. And knowing others’ pain makes healing and redemption that much more amazing.