We're hearing straight from Hayley Childress about important, moving lessons she's learning through Justice Training & Outreach in New Zealand.
Take a moment to read & learn about how her mission continues to develop.
"On Friday afternoons we typically have work duties (cleaning, maintenance, etc.) but one Friday afternoon, we were just handed a packing list and given 3 minutes to pack what was on the list. The list only included a sleeping bag, rain coat, 1 change of clothes, any required medication, a journal and sunglasses. We were about to start an unexpected Justice simulation. Each of us was given an envelope with our refugee story. We were simulating refugees from Trinidad & Tobago whose homes had been flooded. We were temporarily “placed” in an unknown, unfamiliar location and were given 3 ropes, 3 tarps, a pot, pan, 3 bags of rice, 6 cans of beans and fire wood. We were not told how long we’d be there nor what would happen while we were there. We spent 48 hours in an isolated location, sleeping in a tarp shelter we made ourselves, only having rice & beans to eat. Throughout the simulation period, our leaders presented us with different circumstances like threats of deportation, government fees, human-trafficking (which was staged as a possible adoption opportunity) and different degrading scenarios. The experience really shed light on the lack of control there is in a displaced person’s situation. In essence, they’re waiting for other people to make decisions for them. Even when a refugee does have power in the decision, most of the options aren’t ideal.
Even after 48 hours, in a scenario that wasn’t even real, we were all very drained both physically and emotionally. I can’t imagine the extent of what it would be like to be an actual refugee, but it definitely gives a perspective and really revealed things about some of the struggles refugees might face in ways just reading about it could never do. It was a very humbling experience and I’m grateful for it. I think the biggest lesson learned was that when serving & helping others, especially in foreign countries where realities can be drastically different than ours, it’s really easy to get into a “fix it” mentality, which can quickly lead to a very demeaning posture. There has to be an abundance of empathy and humility. We’re not meant to be saviors, we’re meant to simply be servants."