Published in 2017 by Dewit O. Woldu and Irvin Bromall, this “composite story” reflects refugees’ experiences in seeking asylum in the USA. Woldu relays the story of “Natsnet” who journeyed from Eritrea to Saudi Arabia, then finally to Florida. The book is a personal ethnography dealing with abuse of human rights and the “burdens that refugees on our shores carry with them.” Natsnet fled from the “traumas of war and political repression in Eritrea to the gendered and sexual violence accompanying her work as a live-in maid,” in Saudia Arabia. When I thought, “Thank goodness, she is in the U.S!” the author details the “obstacles and cultural biases of the bureaucracy ” of the confusing, molasses-slow processes of immigration control and the slow-grind of the U.S. judicial system. As a reader, this was all new information to me. My heart began to align with immigrants from all countries seeking asylum as Natsnet experienced depression, irritation, suspicion, and hopelessness as she tried to start her new life.
Much academically-acceptable research went into Woldu’s statistics presented in the book, but the personification of the plight of refugees/asylum seekers are his own. He carries this off well, engaging those of us who were unaware/uneducated, which surely was his intent.
This book made a huge difference in my thinking and in my life. Not only was Dewit Woldu a colleague at the university where I taught, but his passion comes across in his teaching and in conversations. I remember asking, “What can I do? Can I write a check to help?” His reply was a kind admonition to make a difference in small ways within my own town. My first step was to read articles in The Houston Chronicle on human trafficking and become aware of issues where my provinciality handicapped me. Last Christmas (2018) I began reading The Newcomers, as a first step to educate myself on how I, as a retired teacher/professor could help. (I will review the book on this site soon.) Today, I am assisting a friend who teaches Basic ESL at the Alvin Family Community Center. Some of our students are seeking asylum; some are applying for a GED or U.S. Citizenship, and all are very grateful for any instruction/encouragement.
I highly recommend Faces to anyone who wants to be reminded of what people will do to achieve a better life for themselves and their children; maybe it will make a difference in your life too.