I honestly didn't even know what to title this post. I write when I feel passionately about something and sometimes its a jumble of random thoughts that come to me that I just need to get out...so please bear with me ;-)
I am amazed of the stories of people from different countries who come to America with little to no money and/or possessions and after much sacrifice, help from family, and hard work they build businesses and sometimes even wealth that spans generations. The stories from the parents and grandparents of 2nd and 3rd generation Americans is something I've been interested in for a long time and could sit and listen to for hours. Its something about the dream, struggle, victory that makes for a great story; The sacrifice to have a better life for their children and future generations.
It seems like many immigrants and refugees who come to America are constantly helping their families back home. Coming to America is a dream many people have all around the world and they come and work multiple jobs, long hours, and continue to send money to support extended families. My sister has a friend from Cameroon, Africa who through a specific lottery in his country was able to come to America. My sister says he has about 400 or more family members back home that he knows well and has a relationship with. He supports many of his family members back home through his jobs in the US. If any family member or close friend comes to the United States he and his network of people in the states support and help them get acclimated to being in America. They would give their last to help each other out. They collect a portion of their money each month that eventually helps support each person within the group and it allows people to be able to take trips back home, pay for expenses, start a business, buy a car, a home, etc. Im most intrigued by this level of support for each other and have heard of these sort of scenarios time and time again within other cultures as well.
I just watched, Meet the Patels on PBS, which the basis of the documentary was more about an Indian family trying to find their thirty-year-old son a wife in somewhat of an American-like way, but partly traditional way, but I saw much more in this story. Other than it being really funny and gave a lot of interesting history on their family background, I saw how much love they have for their culture and what family means to them. Seriously the dad paid for his son's flights all over the US just to go on dates with Indian ladies he thought would make good wives (haha). I'm not saying I approve in their methods or anything like that, but it was interesting to see how their traditions have spanned many generations and the level of support within a family. Ravi Patel's dad came to America w/ five dollars in his pocket, after his extended family pooled together their money just to send him to America. He lived with five other guys in a small apartment just to go to college and make something out of his life and support his family. This in essence seems to be the story of many immigrants around the world.
I also watched another documentary recently on PBS by Frontline called, Exodus and I have to say it was one of the best documentaries I had seen. I will go into more details about this in another post because it deserves much more time, but it basically showed the personal and difficult journey of different families and people who were escaping Syria and a guy from Gambia to make it to the UK and different parts of Europe for asylum and basic freedom. In this film I seriously felt like I was right there with them on their specific journeys and felt the fear, hope, and sometimes hopelessness in their experiences. It was extremely gut wrenching and emotional. I was terrified for them and couldn't imagine being in their shoes. The common motivation driving all of them in this super dangerous underground journey, that had seriously taken the lives of many, was their family and their determination to provide a safe and better life for them.
I may do a part two to this post just to further explain what I see in these family networks because I have many many thoughts about this. Like I said earlier I am super intrigued and I just think there is something more to the idea of family and what that means to some people. I always wonder what is the point of each generation having to start from scratch or point zero in life? It seems like many families who are business minded, have wealth, or worked hard to make a better life for themselves tend to pass those skills, lessons, and/or businesses down to the next generation to prepare them or at the very least support them in their own businesses or life endeavors. Please hear me out-I don't believe anything is owed to anyone in that sense and that we all, especially in the US, have the capability to work hard for anything we want in life. I just want to think that as a parent, if I have the wherewithal, I would love to prepare and set my kids up for the best possible start and chance to succeed in life.
My husband and I talk all the time about what we want for our girls and future generations. We could never compare our lives to what immigrants and refugees may experience just to have a better and safe life but we want to understand that level of selflessness and family support that takes place. Wes and I have learned a lot of lessons (the hard way!), but we really want to prepare our girls for life so that some of our biggest mistakes they could possibly avoid and start life out on a better foot. We want them to enjoy being kids and their youth but also be prepared for what the world has to offer when they get out there. We want to be their #1 supporters of their dreams and goals and find out what their interests are and allow them the opportunities to explore them more. We want to live, support, and enjoy life with them right now and not wait for one day when this or that happens...beacause tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Our job is to love them/teach them God's love, be physically there for them, support, and prepare them for the real world and we are excited about what their futures hold. Prayerfully with God's guidance, we can also start something with this generation that can prepare and change future generations to come!