When confronted by the deaths and suffering of thousands, our senses are overwhelmed, and the victims become statistics rather than people. I meet these statistics one at a time through my volunteer service as a neuropsychologist for the Philadelphia affiliate of HIAS formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society , the global nonprofit that protects refugees and helped my family more than years ago.
I will share the story of one such man I have met in the hopes that my nephew might recognize elements of our shared heritage.
In the early s, Joseph not his real name was conscripted at the age of 14 to be a soldier in Eritrea and sent to a remote desert military camp. Officers there discovered a Bible under his pillow which aroused their suspicion that he might belong to a foreign evangelical sect that would claim his loyalty and sap his will to fight. Joseph was actually a member of the state-approved Coptic church but was nonetheless immediately subjected to torture.
Joseph was tortured for 20 consecutive days before being taken to a military prison and crammed into a dark unventilated cell with 36 other men, little food and no proper hygiene.
Some died, and in time Joseph was stricken with dysentery. When he was too weak to stand, he was taken to a civilian clinic where he was fed by the medical staff. Upon regaining his strength, he escaped to a nearby road where a sympathetic driver took him north through the night to a camp in Sudan where he joined other refugees.
Joseph was on the first leg of a journey that would cover thousands of miles and almost 10 years. Before Donald Trump had started his political ascent promulgating the false story that Barack Obama was a foreign-born Muslim, while my nephew, Stephen, was famously recovering from the hardships of his high school cafeteria in Santa Monica, Joseph was a child on his own in Sudan in fear of being deported back to Eritrea to face execution for desertion.
He worked any job he could get, saved his money and made his way through Sudan. He endured arrest and extortion in Libya. He returned to Sudan, then kept moving to Dubai, Brazil and eventually to a southern border crossing into Texas, where he sought asylum. Today, at 30, Joseph lives in Pennsylvania and has a wife and child. He is a smart, warm, humble man of great character who is grateful for every day of his freedom and safety. He bears emotional scars from not seeing his parents or siblings since he was He still trembles, cries and struggles for breath when describing his torture, and he bears physical scars as well.
He hopes to become a citizen, return to work and make his contribution to America. His story, though unique in its particulars, is by no means unusual. I have met Central Americans fleeing corrupt governments, violence and criminal extortion; a Yemeni woman unable to return to her war-ravaged home country and fearing sexual mutilation if she goes back to her Saudi husband; and an escaped kidnap-bride from central Asia.
Trump wants to make us believe that these desperate migrants are an existential threat to the United States; the most powerful nation in world history and a nation made strong by immigrants. Trump and my nephew both know their immigrant and refugee roots. Yet, they repeat the insults and false accusations of earlier generations against these refugees to make them seem less than human. Trump publicly parades the grieving families of people hurt or killed by migrants, just as the early Nazis dredged up Jewish criminals to frighten and enrage their political base to justify persecution of all Jews.
Almost every American family has an immigration story of its own based on flight from war, poverty, famine, persecution, fear or hopelessness. Most of these immigrants became workers, entrepreneurs, scientists and soldiers of America. I felt like I wanted to give up. I still had some missing grades. Now I had more free time and more time to sleep. I did all this because when Although I had a tough time with my nephew, It was worth it because I learned to not be a lazy kid anymore and grow up.
Having my nephew was great because he brought joy to my whole family and nothing is greater than that. He also gave me a great life lesson. In life you may feel like you just want to give up, but you need to ealize the prize Is much greater than you can imagine.
As soon as usual. It was different though. Although I had a tough time with my nephew, it was worth it because I learned to not brought Joy to my whole family and nothing is greater than that.
In life you may feel like you Just want to give up, but you need to realize the prize is much greater than you can imagine. Home Essays My nephew. My nephew 6 June We will write a custom essay sample on.
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