Gypsy's Travels

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Visit with the the Refugees

I visited the refugees again yesterday, taking DD#2 and Em with me.
The unrelated, young woman who is now living with the mother and 2 children, had arrived the night before. Apparently, it is typical for non-family members to be taken in so everyone seemed quite comfortable with the arrangement. The young woman is 20 years old and exhibits a maturity beyond her years. Both her parents "were killed."

I had a mission. A parishioner had donated a vacuum cleaner and it was still in the box when we left after setting up the apartment. There was no reason to believe they had ever seen such a machine, so education in its use was my primary goal. Thank goodness DD was there. It took both of us to finally get the vacuum cleaner put together. I had always thought those machines came out of the package ready to use, but this one required a few screws. We found a screw driver in the toy we had brought for the son. After putting it together, I picked the unit up by the handle to move it and it fell apart.
"Aha! That's where those extra screws are supposed to go!"

Finally, it was running. I explained, using exaggerated sign language and the minimal interpretive skills of the family's neighbor, how to work the machine. The mother skittered to a corner when I turned the vacuum on. I handled it and showed her how it worked, then enticed her over, nearer the perceived monster. Gingerly, she took the handle and watched with awe as small bits of leaves that had blown in through the door, were lifted and sucked into the tornadic insides of the see-through canister. I wonder if she will ever use it.

The neighbor-who-spoke-minimal-English related the mother's experience from the night before. "She heard a humming noise in the kitchen and was afraid. Then she discovered the noise was from the refrigerator. She had never had (seen?) a refrigerator before."
I'll bet she gets accustomed to it very quickly!

Em had taken equipment to share a couple of crafts with the 14 year old. They were joined by the 20 y/o, and all the neighbors who were visiting gathered around. They wove hot mats on a small loom using cotton loops, made friendship bracelets from embroidery floss, and Em showed them how to use the "Shrinky Dink" materials. The girls seemed to be delighted to have something to do with their hands and I think Mama joined in after we left.

We gave the boy a wooden airplane kit to construct, some marbles, and a plastic dart set. He was delighted. I think his favorite was the airplane. On questioning, I was told the boy was in kindergarten because there was no dedicated school in the refugee camp. That's a lot to catch up on.

Mama gave me a lovely black top with bright embroidery. She said her aunt had made it. They come from an area where the women are known for their weaving, done on back strap looms. I did not want to take the garment since they came here with so little. At the same time, I did not want to offend. I am not sure what I should have done in that situation. I decided to accept it graciously and I have displayed it with some informative materials in the church foyer.

The family lives a fair distance away, which makes it difficult to visit very often. There will, however, be other opportunities to help / interact, I am sure. I look forward to it.

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