April 21, 2004

An Easter Explanation (Part Two)

OR, HOW I GOT A POLITICAL REFUGEE FOR A SISTER

Yesterday, I discussed my freaky mother as part of an explanation for my post regarding my unusual easter. Today, the second and, unless there's something I missed, final installment.

You see, I was raised as an only child. I grew up learning how to exist in my own head, how to entertain myself. Little did I know, I had a long lost sister. A long lost black sister. A long lost black sister from Cameroon who would one day become a political refugee. I mean, you'd think someone would have told me, right?

Alexis is a political refugee from Cameroon. She's only a few years older than me but has had a life that far exceeds mine in terms of sheer experience. Alexis' father was a bigwig in the ruling political party in Cameroon a few years ago but he started to get the feeling that many of the things the government was trying to do were not the appropriate things for the people. He switched parties and was executed. Alexis' mother and brother were quickly arrested. They remain in prison. Alexis was lucky. She was in France at the time but because the French were and are cooperative with the government of Cameroon, she felt unsafe. She fled to America. Sadly, she was forced to leave her three children behind.

I say that Alexis lights up a room not as a cliche but as an actual fact. She has a radiant, infectious smile. Which is pretty amazing if you think about what she's been though. About a year ago, she became one of my mom's students - my mom teaches speech and life skills to political refugees. Almost immediately, Alexis began calling her "mommy." The first time she and I met, she called me her "brew-dah" - it took me a second to interpret though the heavily accented English. Brother.

Meeting Alexis and hearing her story, in addition to the other stories I hear from my mom, I think we're a little bit jaded. I've got lots of problems with our government and its policies. I've got issues with society and the way we conduct ourselves. But all of those become so minor when we look at someone like Alexis. None of us have, I don't think, had their parents murdered or jailed because their views differed from the views of those in power. None of us have ever had to flee our countries for fear of persecution. Sometimes, maybe it would be a good thing to reflect on how lucky we all are and try to help those who don't quite have it so good.

Regardless, that's how I came to spend Easter with a political refugee. And how I found my long lost black refugee sister from Cameroon, the one I never knew I had. How I became a brew-dah.

Posted by Chris at April 21, 2004 07:52 AM
Comments

way to go "brew-dah" =)

Posted by: Lauren at April 21, 2004 08:12 AM

Great story!

Posted by: Krush at April 21, 2004 08:26 AM

Wow. Again, points for your mom. That's so amazing that she just took Alexis under her wing like that, especially because it sounds like she needed it.

Posted by: Dawnie at April 21, 2004 08:38 AM

Wow! Wonderful story! Things like that make whining about little things silly, now does it.

I used to have a friend from Iran. She fled to The Netherlands with her parent when she was about 8 years old. They walked through the mountains to get out of the country. Amazing isn't. I'm very sorry we lost touch. She is however one of the strongest persons I've ever met.

Posted by: Sweety at April 21, 2004 09:05 AM

Dammit! This post made me weepy. Just like this one song on the radio this morning made me weepy and no coffee stirrers in the kitchen made me weepy. It's going to be a long weepy day.

Posted by: amalah at April 21, 2004 10:25 AM

I can't even imagine having a life like hers. I actually have a friend who is studying in Cameroon right now, she says it is beautiful, but so much different than America. I imagine that adjusting from one place to another has got to be very difficult. What a wonderful way to get a sister.

Posted by: Nicole at April 21, 2004 11:19 AM

Sounds like you come from a helluva family :)

Posted by: Amy at April 21, 2004 01:13 PM

And your mother is so cool...just so you know...which it sounds like you do :)

Posted by: Amy at April 21, 2004 01:14 PM

You are so lucky to be in a situation like that - where you get to meet these people and just get a well-rounded view of the world and the way things are.

Posted by: Tjej at April 21, 2004 01:51 PM

Absolutely true. The things we think are such a big deal really aren't, at least in comparison to the things other people go through. I can't even imagine being in a situation like that. But like Tjej just said, at least you've been lucky enough to be introduced to someone who can teach you about other things that go in the world.

Posted by: Zandria at April 21, 2004 02:29 PM

Stories like that always makes me wonder if I could ever survive through shit like that.

Super story! You're sister sounds amazing.

Posted by: Maureen at April 21, 2004 08:18 PM

Wow! It is simply amazing what people survive. And I am not talking about your Easter ;). What is great is that Alexis was able to find a family in America. How wonderful!

Posted by: Nicole at April 21, 2004 09:30 PM

In reading this entry, my life does not suck as much as I thought it did. Your mother sounds like an amazing person.

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