Amaya Books (2017)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (7/18)
“Ten Cultures, Twenty Lives: Refugee Life Stories” by Daina Jurika-Owen happens to be one of the most informative inside looks at the resettlement of refugees and the agencies that work to help them. Too many times I have read books about this topic that is often slanted toward to goal of the individual or organization, but not so with this read.
Little do many of us, the average reader, know about the circumstances of refugees, or why they wait for years to be able to resettle in a more peaceful, and hopefully, more acceptable life for them and their family. Nor do we realize the countless hours that resettlement workers put in to help find living accommodations, transportation, food and helping them acclimate to this new environment.
I appreciated the author’s honesty in sharing these stories so we the readers can understand better what it means to sometimes leave everything behind, including family members to make a positive change, living in a new environment where the language and customs are totally different and sometimes dealing with negative attitudes towards refugees.
Each of these individual storytellers provides insight as to why they left their country, expectations and outcomes, sometimes positive and sometimes not. I was glad to see the intent of these stories were not to have one feel sorry for them, but to provide insight into the experiences each went through. I can’t imagine the process to begin this journey, but through these stories, readers can see the lengthy, sometimes scary process they endure.
The author, although new to the resettlement process herself, did an excellent job of discussing her background, and qualifications as well as how staff overcame language barriers. I will say that as a psychologist for over 25 years I can attest to the time it takes to help individuals, often outside of office hours or when crisis occur. Many of the books I’ve read previously discuss briefly refugees leaving their country and magically finding wonderful, fully loaded housing and jobs, however, they didn’t go into detail as Jurika-Owen did about how the refugee council helped these individuals get to that point and trust me it doesn’t happen overnight.
I highly recommend “Ten Cultures, Twenty Lives: Refugee Life Stories” by Daina Jurika-Owen to anyone who wants to know the what, when and where of resettling refugees without a biased opinion.