To start the week, I’m pleased to share an article about Martha Ajavon, a leader of our June 20 World Refugee Day delegations to Capitol Hill. The Charlotte Observer reported on her life as a former refugee from Liberia’s civil war and described her advocacy for people with similar experiences.
In her July 12 piece, “Ex-refugee Emphasizes the Importance of Help,” Charlotte Observer reporter Hope Yancey writes:
Ajavon said that by 1990, rebels were in Kakata, the city where Ajavon and her family lived. She and her relatives feared for their safety, so they left, while Ajavon’s husband, Isaac, stayed behind.
Ajavon said she and her family were held by rebels after fleeing their home, but one of their captors abruptly released them. “Maybe it was just God,” she said.
Ajavon said she soon ran into neighbors, who said her husband had been killed and that rebels were looking for Ajavon and her children. Ajavon and Isaac had just celebrated 20 years of marriage.
When she and her family heard the U.S. was accepting refugees from Liberia, “We put our name on the list,” she said.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service helped bring Ajavon to the U.S. The organization, with headquarters in Baltimore, has a history of advocating for migrants and refugees.
Besides being an honored guest at our Walk of Courage Award Dinner to mark World Refugee Day, Ajavon took part in LIRS’s work on Capitol Hill. She was among more than two dozen LIRS delegates who met with over 30 congressional offices on World Refugee Day. They asked lawmakers to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform, and to keep the plight of the world’s 15 million refugees in mind as they undertake that important work.
Recently, Ajavon went to Washington, D.C., a trip arranged by the Lutheran group that came to her aid. She marked World Refugee Day on June 20 by speaking with staff from the offices of N.C. lawmakers. Ajavon talked to them about protecting refugees.
World Refugee Day was established by the U.N. General Assembly in 2000 to bring attention to people “forcibly displaced,” according to the website of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
“You never know how much suffering goes on in the world, and it’s a good thing that the U.S. government comes to the aid of the refugees,” Ajavon said.
To read the whole article, please click the link above. Besides leaving a positive comment, you can also show your support by promoting the link via Facebook and other social media, and by sending the link to your friends, colleagues, and family.
On behalf of LIRS, I’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to Martha Ajavon for speaking out for refugees and immigration reform on Capitol Hill. We’re also thankful to the Charlotte Observer for covering these critically important issues.
Now that World Refugee Day is over, the work of passing immigration reform that strengthens protections for refugees is just beginning. Please add your voice to that of Martha Ajavon by visiting the LIRS Action Center now and asking the House of Representatives to pass legislation with positive provisions for refugees and asylees!