Jessie Griggs Burnette, a former LSG resettlement intern and current volunteer, recently spent time with refugees in New Delhi, India. Jessie is currently studying for her Master’s in Anthropology at Georgia State University. On our blog, Jessie is writing a three-part mini-series based on excerpts from her journal. Read her third post below.
Important Note: This trip to India was not for publishable research. This was a personal voyage to meet a group of people that I knew were in need of help and attention. This blog post is, literally, a glimpse into my personal diary. It isn’t meant for publication or academic use. It is simply a raw reflection of my experiences. I am often asked about my own feelings as I travel and work abroad. I feel that by sharing my own feelings and thoughts with the public, I may be able to convince others to take risks – to face their fears. It is easier than one may think to travel, learn, and help. Everywhere I go, I am met by kind and generous people, always protecting and guiding me. Others can do the same. I want to be a voice for those who can’t use their own. Sharing my personal experiences within a community waiting for resettlement is one way I can do so.
“As I sat surrounded by refugees, for a single moment, I had a fleeting thought. I stared into the small crowd, and felt like a false advertiser. I felt as if my simple presence was making a false promise that I couldn’t uphold. I felt sure that they thought I was there to deliver some good news or hope, and the truth is, I had no idea why I was there. I had no plan. I had delivered enough food to last the community a week, but I had no sustainable plan to offer.” Diary Excerpt- May 14 2014
Today, I have a plan. Action begins with an idea. The idea has been born, and the first steps of action have been taken. Together, with a team of dedicated and compassionate individuals, I am working to begin a foundation to educate refugee children while they wait for resettlement. Those in the refugee community know that this wait can be a long and grueling one. Our immediate scheme will focus on providing a private education for refugee children living in the city of New Delhi. The long term goal will be planned carefully, and implemented as a team of anthropologists and educators volunteer their time, working diligently and strategically on a very specific task of evaluating current programs that are active, yet struggling to succeed. We will work to identify the problems at hand, and focus on overcoming the issues that have been presented by the refugee community. The immediate goal is to identify and educate as many children as possible so that if and when resettlement occurs, they will find themselves prepared to enter an accredited school system. We have a very long term goal of creating a foundation that can support and sustain a school. The school will offer a targeted education, boasting language, history, science, math, and cultural relativism courses. These are lofty goals, but with time, collaboration, and dedication, we will have the tools needed to succeed. Until then, at the request of refugee mothers and fathers, we will sponsor children as they wait for their turn to live in a permanent home.
If you are interested in being a part of the team or donating to the cause. You may contact the author, Jessie Griggs Burnette, at firstname.lastname@example.org.