My feelings traveled as a refugee with Jeanne Jacoby Smith to the airport in Toledo. As I listened to the heart rending story of her church in Ohio, I asked myself, “Is J. J. Smith the author of this book, or is she the voice of the refugees? Can I hear the heart beats of the refugees through her writing? Am I, too, moving with those heart beats? Why am I flying with strong convictions of safe resettlement and emotional re-adjustment?”
Yes, I have some answers. I worked closely with survivors of the Tsunami in Kerala, India. From December 26, 2004, I lived through their trauma. What J.J. Smith describes is not just a story, but revelations of her experience while working with her church’s refugee family. She offers full support to lift their moods, to instill confidence in their hearts again. She kindles the light of love by erasing fear and ensuring them safe sleep, by quenching their thirst, and satiating their hunger. These tasks required dedication for the church, as it worked hard to fulfill its goal.
I, also, noted the intensity of the church’s work which continued until it reached its destination. Congratulations!
I could visualize the characters, the dialogues, and each scene, well-knitted to the next one, so neat it could make a movie. Reading the book at a stretch, I appreciated the conversational writing style of the author. There is rhythm in her book that moved my eyes quickly from one page to the other until I finished reading. The book made me inquisitive enough to continually wonder about upcoming events. I could not wait for the next day.
After completing the book, I experienced a moment of joy! Could the Nguyen family visit my hometown in Kerala to meet the resettled Tsunami survivors’ families? This is India’s invitation to the family.
Thank you, J.J., for your wonderful expressions that finally evolved as a book! Thanks, also, to the Ohio church for uplifting the refugees so they could have the courage to face their future with faith. And thanks to the author’s voice for bringing their story to life.
By Sarada S.A., Ph.D.