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Our Global Family

This month we will have the opportunity to stand and represent perspectives of faith, family, and motherhood at the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference. We are beyond thrilled and grateful that all three of our workshop applications have been approved. One is titled: We Will Overcome! Stories of How Immigrant and Refugee Families are Finding Success.

I wanted to share with you the inspiration for this presentation. I happen to come from a long line of immigrants. My paternal grandmother emigrated from Portugal to Brazil in 1946 when she was just 15 years old. Later, at the age of 84, she proudly immigrated to the United States.  In 1963, at the age of 7, my mom, her sister and father emigrated from Bolivia to Brazil. Later she and my dad, with their four kids, six suitcases and $800 cash, immigrated to the United States. 

This great land was a land of opportunity. My parents instilled in us an ethic of  hard work as we took odd jobs to keep us afloat. For many years we delivered newspapers, cleaned buildings, worked construction, and tended children for a meager income to cover the bills. Throughout the many years of hardship, we found that as long as we were anchored in our faith and stuck together, we would make it. Today whenever we get together we laugh and cry as we retell those stories, but our hearts are grateful for the journey that brought our family closer. This has made all the difference in our individual and collective success. 

Our story isn’t that different from many stories of families seeking for a land with better opportunities and possibilities. Chances are that not too far down your own family line, your family likewise had a special immigration story too. Some of you may even have family members who were asylum seekers as they ran away from war and civil unrest. These stories are sacred and they stand at the core of who we are. If it weren’t for our pioneer ancestors dreaming big and risking everything, we would not be where we are today. 

In our current socio-political landscape, we are bombarded with messages that can detract from our own immigration stories that link us to one another as a broader global family. My hope as a Big Ocean sisterhood is for us to stay connected to our ancestral roots  so we can move forward with thoughtfulness toward other families who are seeking a better life for their current and future children–the same thoughtfulness shown to us at one point in our history. 

The title of our presentation relates to the secret ingredient for the success of immigrant and refugee families. It’s unity. If as a society we can work to preserve and protect the family unit, individuals within the family will have a much better chance of thriving and succeeding. And we all know that a thriving family is a tremendous asset to communities and societies everywhere. 

What can you personally do to support the family during such challenging times? Start by nurturing your own families. From your immediate family, your extended family and beyond, take time to show kindness, thoughtfulness and appreciation. Serve one another and strengthen your own families. The love and abundance mindset you foster in your own home will become contagious to those around you. As we practice internal compassion, we will come to understand that the safety and well-being we may experience may not be available to all of our global family members.  We will have a desire to reach out in love and compassion to others so that they too can experience the feeling of safety and well-being together with their families. 

We each have specific skills and ideas on how best to extend our love of families to the world. Use your gifts and talents to enlarge your hearts and homes to encompass more and more of our global brothers and sisters. Please join with us in support of faith, family, and motherhood as we represent our views at the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference. Join our delegation as we share three presentations that will focus on Family Capital, Maternal Economy, and The Three Environments.