The story of Nicole, Alex, and their family is shared in a different way. The father of this family, Henry, comes from a militant family. He rarely leaves their home for fear of his safety. The mother, Faith, was imprisoned in Bulgaria for a year with Nicole before escaping and reuniting with Henry and Alex. We don’t know exactly what traumatic experiences Faith faced during that time away from Henry, but we know it was a very difficult time in her life.
Nicole is your typical five-year-old little girl who enjoys playing dress-up, prancing around with a purse, fixing hair, and all things girly. During our time getting to know this beautiful family, my six-year-old daughter developed a quick connection with Nicole.
Alex is Nicole’s three-year-old brother. Meeting him encouraged me to continue doing more for refugees. As a three-year-old child he who was without his mom for an entire year, fled extremely dangerous conditions with his father, his development has been extremely delayed. At three-years-old Alex hasn’t spoken and was more on the 12-18 month child development level.
Nicole, like Alex had obvious signs of childhood trauma. While she is happy and smiling in all of these pictures, that was not always the case during our interactions. It almost always took her a good 20 minutes to warm up and soften her heart toward us.
My daughter seemed to have the biggest impact on softening her. One of our friends that has known this family a while mentioned that he hadn’t seen Nicole smile and happy before she interacted with my daughter. The night the above picture was taken, Nicole wanted nothing to do with us. Yet with patience and love offered by a fellow child she was quickly running around playing chase and moments later snuggled up with her new friend beaming.
More than half of the Refugees in the world are children. All of them have seen war and death, they’ve experienced starvation and thirst, Refugee children have missed out on receiving adequate medical care, and many more of them are missing out on a vital education.
It’s because of kids like Nicole and Alex that More than Numbers exists. We want to ensure that they and their families don’t have to worry about food. We want to ensure that they know how loved and cherished they are, we want them to know that they are More than Numbers. Nicole and Alex deserve the chance to dream and live in peace.
I am still thinking through ideas and the best way to help them heal from childhood trauma to provide them with security and coping mechanisms. Just before writing this blog I stumbled across an organization called Threadies (http://threadies.com/) that provide teddy bears to refugee children. I encourage you to check them out.
“We didn’t realize we were making memories we were just having fun”