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Compassion and respect shine in the Blythe refugee shelter.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Homeless - from danger to shelter! part two

In May 2019 words caught my ears, “Immigrants from Central America are being dropped off here in Blythe.”

Oh no, I thought, dropping off people is no helpful solution. I feel like a kid watching an unwanted dog in a burlap bag with stones, being tossed into a river to drown.

I remembered when state governments closed mental health institutions throughout the United States. Thousands of needy men and women were released into towns where they found no home. Often streets became their home. Treatment centers could not handle the problem. Families struggled with how to care for mentally ill family members.

Now people are at risk in an international immigration and refugee crisis. Border agents cannot stop the flow of illegals. March 28, 2019 the Yuma U.S. sector announced they were so overwhelmed that they would start releasing detainees into communities at churches and bus stations.

Many refugees have been smuggled by human coyotes, from Central American across the United States border. Sometimes they pay their smugglers scalper rates and are treated brutally and sold. They find no joyful freedom.

In the United States we hear scary and contradictory warnings. Voices declare, “Our country is being over-run with legal and illegal immigrants, gang members and criminals. Some plan to attack us. Gang members from MS-13 are returning from El Salvador. Their motto is ‘rape, control, kill.’

“Our government has no comprehensive immigration policy! Immigration is a football game of tossing a hot potato between Republicans and Democrats. They have opinions but little negotiation. Compromise is a dirty word.”

Simultaneously thousands of people are desperate to leave countries where they cannot escape poverty and violence. When the refugees travel, their belongings are often stolen by corrupt police. The refugees walk, ride buses or cars to the United States and Mexican border. Those allowed to enter the United States, are often transported by border patrol to a shelter for a brief rest.

In Blythe, California their shelter is the Blythe Central Seventh Day Adventist Church. It is ideal for temporary housing. There are one hundred and twenty cots, floors with sleeping bags, and pews with blankets. The church had formerly been a nursing care center. Its leadership unanimously agreed that their facilities be used as a refugee center.

When I went to the shelter in Blythe, I met Maria Lynn, the dynamic director and her husband, a skilled doctor. I saw quiet thin refugees from Central America. No children ran or cried as I was in a large multipurpose room with refugees.

In following days I observed a small force of men and women volunteers. More were needed. They were committed to preparing meals for hungry refugees and providing them with new socks and underwear, clean used clothing, and warm showers.

I saw townspeople bring food, clothing, and toys for children. There were special activities, including two impromptu gatherings in the chapel. The refugees loved to sing Christian hymns and I loved to play the piano as they sang. Faces glowed with joy.

Compassion and respect have shined in the Blythe refugee shelter. Next week let’s continue this story.

This is Barbara Steiner. Please visit www.thisweeksstory.com

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