People of the Dash

I came home last night after two weeks of volunteering with Anabaptist Refugee Committee at an army base in Wisconsin. The base housed 13,000 Afghan refugees in August. Many have resettled, and approximately 6,000 are left and hoping to be resettled in their new homes by the end of February.

It was a wonderful two-week stint, spending time with these beautiful, brave people who have lived through more devastation than anyone should have to, and who are attempting to start a new life in a new country. I lost my heart to the children and teens, so lively, so bright, eager to learn, respectful. I wonder what schools they’ll land in, how much support they’ll get, and if they’ll come to love this new world.

If you or someone you know can spare two weeks between now and the end of February, and can comply with the newly-mandated vaccination needed to work with refugees, consider applying now with ARC!

I wrote this poem months ago when I first heard the term “people of the dash” but I feel it more deeply now. This post has no pictures because it’s illegal to share them publicly. But I saw people who looked like relatives of the sad, beautiful Afghani girl in famous National Geographic cover photo. Their effortless beauty and liveliness took my breath away.

People of the Dash




People-of-Care from Syria, Afghanistan, Myanmar.

People of the dash

Live between worlds,

A hyphen of time without home.


Stories of full lives behind

And hope for life ahead

Are the only sure things they own.

They exist on the cramped short line

Between empires with tapestries of legends and lore and

Today’s mercy (or none)

Of authorities who speak a new language:

Food line. Documents. Tent. Blanket. Permission. Quiet. Stop.

Their sleep cracks with violence and staggering loss.


O Jesus, Man between worlds

Who also had no pillow,

How long until the crescent wave of your justice

Washes this groaning globe

And ushers your beautiful, broken people of the dash

To their long home, carrying their spangled splendor?


How long, dear Jesus,

Once homeless God-Man,

How long can you wait?

5 thoughts on “People of the Dash

  1. I am currently listening on audio to Other Words for Home, a middle grade fiction story of a Syrian immigrant to America. I liked it and borrowed a copy for my 12 year old to read. It captures the hope and sadness of being between worlds and the courage required, whether or not you think you have it, of beginning in a new land.

  2. So good, Anita! I long to see them come to Christ & find in Him a greater sense of belonging than they’ve ever had!

  3. What?! You volunteered at the Fort and stayed at the Abbey and visited Sparta Mennonite Fellowship? And I didn’t get to meet you and connect with your name? How disappointing, I’ve been following you for a couple years now! That’s our church, my husband is the deacon there.
    I also lost my ❤ to those people, so affectionate, so appreciative. I mostly volunteer with the comforter sessions that our church ladies sponsor. Sadly, tomorrow is our last day for that because of the mandate.
    Bless you for sharing!

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