Written by Danielle Steenwyk-Rowaan, Open Homes Hamilton Team Leader
A heavily pregnant mother , looking for a safe place to bring her baby into the world.
A volatile world marked by oppression, refugee crises, and uncertainty.
A refugee journey into an unknown and culturally different land to protect the life of her child. A life marked by prayer and dependence on God and the hospitality of strangers.
No, I'm not talking about the story of Jesus' arrival, though I very well could be.
I'm talking about a recently arrived Guest of Open Homes Hamilton (a program of IAFR Canada), who arrived in her host home in early November, 8 months pregnant.
She was worried for her child, of course. Travelling at 8 months pregnant is not easy, whether by plane, as in Carolina’s voyage, or on foot (likely the situation of Mary the mother of Jesus).
Flying at 8 months and going through a stressful interview after declaring refugee status at the airport had caused her amniotic fluid to leak. She was rushed to the hospital and given a date for an ultrasound--but instead of allowing her to attend her ultrasound, immigration officials put her in a 2 week COVID quarantine. She was alone, scared, and anxious about her partner’s safety.
As she sat in that lonely hotel room, praying and worrying about her baby, Carolina had called several refugee shelters to find space. But as the borders reopen to international travellers, the refugee houses are beginning to fill up.
Thankfully she is now safely settled into an Open Homes host home with her partner and is waiting to give birth. Though she is far from her family, and carries the trauma of the refugee journey and the experiences that pushed them to flee, she has a safe place to bring her child into the world and a Kinship Circle of volunteers to support her.
In Carolina’s native Spanish, “dar a luz” is the verb for giving birth. Translated literally, it means “to give to the light.”
Mary too was about to "dar a luz"...to the Light of the world. (John 1) And Mary too, found a safe place to give birth through the hospitality of strangers.
This Christmas, may the gritty reality of that first Christmas resound for you anew.
Our vision is to help people survive and recover from forced displacement. We do this together with the church, both globally, and locally in Canada.