I knew nothing about the Muslim people of the world before I entered into the YES program. I didn’t expect to end up in Mombasa, Kenya, a coastal city distinctive in its unique blend of Swahili and Arabic culture, and heavily populated by Muslims and Somali refugees.
Last month, the first three refugee families were given homes in the Pontypridd area of Wales. I’m learning how Muslims are as varied as Christians.
My friend married at a young age, maybe just 16. Now a mother of two teenagers, she works as domestic help in four homes in addition to caring for her own. At times she exudes captivating joy. At other times, I see in her eyes the hardness of life. The weariness it brings. The longing for more.
The March 2016 attacks in Brussels hit close to home. It’s in the heart of our European continent, and we have stood exactly where the blast happened. I am horrified that this stuff continues in our world. But what really concerns me today is that isolated events like these will provide continued fuel to the fire of fear, mistrust, and hate of Muslims.
If you’ve ever lived in a foreign country, you know how hard it is to fit into the community. Between the language barrier, the cultural differences, and the lack of connections, it can be difficult finding your place. When you’re the outsider, you really appreciate it when people welcome you into their homes.