In the bleak, dull grey of winter, refugees from Somalia, Ghana, and Chad stand out like blazing rays of sunshine; sunshine made of fabric and grace.Wearing my customary black pants and sweater, the assumed business wear of the Career Woman in Boston, I feel drab in comparison. The only color is in my cheeks – red from the cold. I look around and wish I had worn my scarf, purchased for a bargain from a vendor in the Khan el Khalili bazaar in Cairo, boasting colors of brilliant fuchsia, orange, purple, and red beautifully blended into a woven pattern.
The fabric and grace of these refugee patients strikes me. The cloth is light cotton, useless against the chill of the season, but so beautiful. So unexpected. So rich and full of stories.
It’s draped artistically but practically over body and shoulders, a piece of their identity that they struggle to keep despite the winter cold. Heavy coats, purchased from women’s clothing aisles at the Salvation Army and Goodwill stores in the city, hang on chair backs as they sit in the waiting room of this busy community health center.
The United Nations can boast nothing over this waiting room. At any point there are over 70 languages being spoken from over 60 countries.
Each face tells a story, each body represents a journey, each soul a trauma, all wrapped up in fabric and grace.
I want to stop and ask them questions, find out their stories, write their stories and make sure all see them. But I have to go, have to leave all this color and go to a black and white meeting void of fabric or grace. So I smile, say hello, soak in the smiles I’m given in return — more sunshine.
I shake my head in amazement at the resilience of the human spirit, Grace indeed.
- New Roots for Refugees [Communicating Across Boundaries]
- The Language of Care [Communicating Across Boundaries]
- Your Manicure Will Never Be the Same [Communicating Across Boundaries]