Have you ever found yourself somewhere you didn’t know the language? Or struggled for words to communicate with someone from somewhere else? There is often a pause. And a deer in the head lights look.

And then…And then what happened next? Leave a comment and tell us your story of a time you connected beyond language. (or a time when you didn’t!!!)

And check out this video of Argentine with a new friend, sharing a moment like that. They found a single word, a beautiful word…that needed no translation. It’s short, but it gives me shivers. Because it is exactly what we are all trying to do. Across all the differences, we sit down at the piano and look for the song we can sing together. Thank you for sharing Natasha, Kate and AIRSS!


Argentine and Mapendo bought shoes for the first time in their lives.  It was an exciting moment.


For as long as Argentine and Mpaendo can remember they have worn these metal leg braces, with sandal straps attached.  A type of built-in shoe, for those who have no other choice.


But the ability to choose your shoes matters.  Shoes say a lot about a person.

So when Kate invited Argentine and Mapendo to come and pick out new shoes, they couldn’t resist.   (Kate is one of our amazing friends at AIRSS, the refugee resettlement group which is working so hard to settle and support Argentine and Mapendo and their families in their new community).

At the shoe store, Argentine and Mapendo were giddy with laughter.  They tried on one pair after another, looking for a pair that would fit their new leg braces.  And also their new lives.

The only problem is that Argentine’s feet are tiny.  Child-sized.  And every pair of shoes that was brought out seemed to feature the bright colors favored by young children.  One pair even featured flashing lights…the kind that light up when you stomp or jump.

Argentine’s vision of her new life apparently does not include flashing shoes.

Eventually they moved on to another store, and found one, treasured pair of shoes for Argentine.  Once Argentine put them on, she didn’t want to let them go.

In all the years that I have worked with Argentine and Mapendo, I guess I have never actually thought about the shoes they were wearing, no matter how many times I have invited you to walk in their footsteps.  I thought about the metal leg braces, and how uncomfortable they are, but I never thought about how their leg braces excluded them from choosing a pair of shoes.  In Goma, shoe sellers line the streets.

shoes on the street

They line the side walk with sneakers, high heels, and boots perched on the side of the road.   Calling out to passer-bys to try them on.

And people wear beautiful shoes.  They walk through the mud and chaos of life in Goma, and arrive with shoes somehow spotless.  As though a pair of shoes has the power to transport it’s wearer to another life.

Argentine and Mapendo never got to stop at those stalls in Goma.  But here they are now. shopping for shoes.  27951545_581578388846568_1944515708_o.jpg






Day 24: Bullets Crying


Day 24: “The bullets are crying loudly these days.” Riziki
That is the literal translation to say there is a lot of shooting these days in Goma.

Riiki sends this heartbreaking message along with this beautiful photo. And I am overcome. Because how do the two go together? Bullets crying and mamas sewing? And yet they do. In fragmented space between bullets crying, Riziki sits down to sew.

Day 20: No Words

Day 20: (Mapendo sent this photo with no accompanying quote. Perhaps she thought the photo speaks for itself!). How would you caption it?

Mapendo and Argentine have now been in Athabasca for a month and a half. Mapendo and her family live in an apartment in this complex. Argentine is living in temporary housing amd waiting for a space to open in this complex. We are thankful to have found an apartment complex with an elevator amd ultimately the chance for Argentine and Mapendo to live near eachother. Www.shonacongo.com