The soothing energy of Sylvan Esso wraps around us, and we settle into it, consuming a donated lunch and each other’s company with gentle gratitude and fierce friendship. Dark skies begin to fall upon us; our commitment remains impervious to dampness.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy radiates through the streets of Louisville – each of our 30 volunteers a beacon of peaceful activism. We will spend this day engaged in service to our neighbors for whom equality has been elusive. We will spend this day on with Kentucky Refugee Ministries.
Each group delves into an assignment, united behind reducing the many barriers refugees face as they adapt to a new community. Carts fill with essentials; trunks fill with deliveries. Sweat chases down the backs of those organizing in the basement – 100 book bags packed, 100 hygiene kits assembled.
We do what we can with what we have, supporting pillars of integration and self-efficiency. Our newest residents are met by citizens who have taken an oath to end poverty, cultivating a mutual appreciation for genuine human connection. We immerse ourselves in the multidimensional platform of refugee resettlement, establishing stronger ties to the mission of VISTA, deepening our respect of the fortitude refugees possess, and gaining a lucid understanding of the synergy behind community engagement.
“We may all have come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
Within this past year, KRM resettled over 1,500 refugees in Louisville. Although many of their journeys involved ships in a literal sense, their experiences are as unique as the individuals. 1,500 people from islands, from mountains, from deserts. 1,500 people from the sunshine of Cuba, from the dry winters of Afghanistan, from the heavy rains of Bhutan. 1,500 people from the world we share, and Louisville reaches out a hand to greet them.
1,500 opportunities for our city to listen, to learn, to love.
To give, to grow, to gain.
1,500 lives with whom we now set sail.
Written by Alexis Faller, VISTA Leader