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Making Refuge: Somali Bantu Refugees and Lewiston, Maine (Global Insecurities)
Making Refuge: Somali Bantu Refugees and Lewiston, Maine (Global Insecurities)
Catherine Besteman
Duke University Press Books, 2016
352 pp., $26.95

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D. L. Mayfield


Do We Really Welcome Refugees?

“No one shall make them afraid.”

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In the last section of the book, Besteman writes about one of the first Somali Bantu refugees to graduate from college, a man who worked night and day to provide for his family and help his community. Currently he runs an advocacy program to help the Somali Bantu community navigate the various power structures (schools, prisons, social services) they come into contact with daily. It's such a small story in such a long book of trauma, but I treasure it, the fruit of a dream that should not be limited to a select few: safety, meaningful work, education. Every individual sitting under their own vine and fig tree, where no one can make them afraid. This is a dream that translates well to subsistence farmers, to a people oppressed by so many factors in so many places. My Somali Bantu friends have taught me that it's a dream we can all share, the same one that the prophets and the founders of America urged on us—a dream stemming from the God who created us all.

D. L. Mayfield has a book forthcoming from HarperOne, Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith. She lives with her family in Portland, Oregon.

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