“Sometimes when my parents thought we were sleeping upstairs they would talk in the kitchen about some of the things that had happened to our family in Ukraine. I could hear their voices through the stove pipe, because it ran from the kitchen up into our bedroom. The terrible things I heard my parents talking about frightened me.”
My mother-in-law told me that story once. She was just a little girl when she came to Canada from Ukraine but that didn’t mean she wasn’t affected by her family’s refugee experience.
I thought of my mother-in-law Anne and her family often as I read the book The Displaced. It is a series of essays by refugee writers describing their families’ experiences finding a new home in North America. The book was just published in 2018 so it includes references to how Trump’s America is changing the lives of refugees and making them scarier and more difficult. The theme that resonated for me in the essays was how the refugee experience impacted multiple generations of families. The stories in The Displaced are well written, many a riveting read and they are as diverse as the writers who penned them. The refugee writers have come from Chile, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Bosnia, Zimbabwe, Iran, Ethiopia, Mexico, Hungary and like my mother-in-law Ukraine. They offer an illuminating window into the lives of refugees and make the reader aware of how vital it is for countries to welcome and offer a home to people who find themselves in untenable circumstances due to no fault of their own.