FEELING SAFE AGAIN
Siloam Health is a wonderful nonprofit in Nashville offering health care for people who have no insurance. Many immigrants find their way here and Siloam provides translators to make sure these patients receive appropriate care. Through their Nashville Neighbors program, our church developed volunteer teams to work for about 6 months with one immigrant family recently arrived in Nashville. An agency like Catholic Charities helped each family find housing and necessary furniture, household goods and clothes. They received thorough health, dental and vision screenings. The agency also helped find jobs and schools for family members. The Nashville Neighbors teams would go to the family’s home for scheduled visits (with a translator provided by Siloam Health) and at each visit, present a health education or first aid lesson.
This photo shows our Nashville Neighbors team with our dear family from Honduras. Seated on the sofa are Nelson and Suri with their two daughters, Suri and little Paulette. This was in the living room of our church after a wonderful Southern Thanksgiving meal (2018) we prepared and ate with them. By this time, we’d completed our formal sponsorship and developed a real friendship with them.
Nelson was a social worker in Honduras and over the years, their government became increasingly corrupt and there were many unfair labor practices. As he fought to get better working and living conditions, he was beaten up several times and arrested. When he began to get threats to harm his family, they sought asylum in the United States. In their Nashville apartment, they felt safe for the first time in years. Suri remained very anxious and watched her daughters carefully.
The girls quickly adjusted to their schools—and Suri was advanced to a gifted program. They easily picked up English and Nelson also began to at his job. Suri struggled to learn a new language. Nelson got a job at Dozen, a really nice bakery-restaurant in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood. The owners and staff liked him very much and he was eager to learn and take on new responsibilities. He said his work as a social worker had been so stressful in Honduras that he’d much rather stay in the food business. They found a church with a large number of immigrants from Honduras and enjoyed being part of that community.
The second photo shows the family at my house for Suri’s birthday in mid-January, 2019.
We had a festive meal including a homemade birthday cake with candles. Little Paulette lost her first baby tooth during dinner! Several of the women enjoyed taking Suri to a Goodwill store to shop for coats for herself and the girls. We also took her to lunch at a Honduran restaurant on Nolensville Road. She was so happy to talk with the owner and tell us about some of her favorite dishes from her home country.
Seeing their joy at having air conditioning for the first time in their lives, at having a swimming pool at the apartment complex, and especially, at feeling safe even in a strange country with a different language—it made us all feel more gratitude for so much we take for granted.