On Being Homeward Bound: Part 4
Monday, Dec. 18, 2006, will be International Migrant Day - a day to remember and act on behalf of all who have journeyed from their home nations seeking a decent living for their families, seeking education and opportunity for the children, seeking an end to oppression and impoverishment. Dec. 18 will be a day to notice and appreciate migrant workers in our midst: to be thankful for those who pick and prepare our food, those who care for our children, those who bring talents and life-giving traditions from their countries to ours.
In preparation for International Migrant Day, Women's Division executive Glory E. Dharmaraj, Ph.D., has prepared a series of meditations entitled, "On Being Homeward Bound." You are encouraged to read one each day from Monday, Dec. 11 through Saturday, Dec. 16. Throughout the week, begin to think how you will mark International Migrant Day. Sunday, Dec. 17, review all the meditations, reading them as a whole. Offer your plan to God in prayer. Monday, Dec. 18, act.
Long Night's Journey Into Home
by GLORY E. DHARMARAJ, Ph.D.*
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
• Hebrews 13:1-2
The God of the Bible is a traveling God. Father Rene Castañeda, a leader of the Community Center for Assistance to Migrants and People in Need in Altar, Mexico, calls Jesus "The Migrant Jesus." The God of the Bible is a Migrant God, who always travels to the margins and takes up residence with people at the margins.
Among today's migrants are millions of women have left their physical homes, their countries of birth, looking for better homes. Women constitute nearly half of all the migrants in the world today. Many migrate in search of employment, to unite with their families, to marry.
One of every four migrants lives in North America and one of every three in Europe. There are two women for every male migrant leading to a feminization of migration.
Migrant women's labor is often invisible. They work as domestics, attend the sick, take care of the elderly, offer their service as cleaners and waiters, and render their expertise as skilled professionals.
The money 95 million migrant women earn in host countries is often sent to their families in their home countries. In 2005, the monies sent by migrants to their home countries amounted to $232 billion - often more than official foreign aid going to the developing nations from which they come.
Living in two or more places, the migrants often do not have homes of their own. While they may escape oppression in their home countries, they cannot say they belong in the countries to which they have moved. Though the International Convention on All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families went into effect in 2003, there are migrants who do not know their basic rights. Too many do not know the convention calls for abolition of human trafficking and an end to jobs riddled with human-rights violations and abuses.
Dec. 18 - International Migrant Day - is a day to remember and act on behalf of all who are on a long night's journey seeking homes, seeking safe places to earn decent livings. It is a day to remember migrant laborers who make possible the food on our tables.
Let us pray:
Our God, who journeys with migrant women who leave their homes when they can find no other way to support their families, make us aware of their presence and their needs. Challenge us to work to end abuse of migrant workers. Amen.