We had the honor of hosting a gentleman from Africa who was released from immigrant detention last week. He escaped horrors you could not imagine, coming to the United States seeking asylum.
On the day of his release, our volunteer Greg picked him up from the detention center and brought him to our home. He walked in and I immediately celebrated his release with a big high five and then he asked me, "Do you have an iron?"
He had packed an outfit that he planned to wear on the first day he would see his family whom he hadn't seen for many, many years. I paused, because I couldn't remember if we actually did have an iron (if my clothes require ironing I give them away haha!). But then I realized we had one so I brought it up to him.
The second question he asked was, "Do you have a piece of paper?" I grabbed a notebook that was on the kitchen table and handed it over to him. He began writing a name down. He told me, "This is the name of my friend who is still locked up. Do you think you can find someone to go visit him? He would really like it."
I've thought about why those two questions have stuck with me. He reminded me that each and every single human being in detention is just that... a human being. With hopes and dreams, even if one of those dreams is as simple as an ironed shirt. And I was humbled that after his traumatic experience of fleeing from unspeakable violence and being held behind bars, he was still considerate enough to remember a fellow friend left behind in detention.
If you would like to visit someone in detention and have already gone through our visitation training, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We have 22 men and women on our list of people who have requested a visit and they all speak English or Spanish.
Plan to attend our next visitation training if you have not yet done so. It will be on July 7 from 1pm - 3pm. Email email@example.com to save your spot.
Finally, save the date for Friday the 13th. We are having a Happy Hour fundraiser to raise bond money so we can get moms and dads separated from their children out of detention and back together again.
With perseverance and hope,