When I was in 7th grade, I was introduced to a boy named Chance in my class. He was very tall, the tallest in my class, and loved nothing more than to play soccer. He had a funny accent, but that didn't matter to us - he was Chance. Our friend.
But, Chance had experienced some things that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Chance was from Rwanda, a refugee from the war torn region of Africa that still haunts me. In confidence, years later, he told me what had happened, and it finally all made sense.
Chance was very quiet. He wasn't shy, I'd even venture to say that he was the opposite of shy, but he really had to trust you to even look you in the eye. He was conditioned to fear strangers. He was nervous around loud noises - the bell between classes, the fire alarm, a door slamming too loudly. When he first arrived, I remember seeing him cower in fear, weeping, after someone had done something as simple as close a door too hard.
Chance had seen his entire family slaughtered before his eyes. He was 9.
I didn't understand war, or blind hatred, or fear, until I met Chance.
Chance gets married to the love of his life on September 2, 2012. He lives in the city, has a degree in Marine Biology, and loves his life tending to the animals at the aquarium. This would never have happened if someone didn't take the chance and speak up for him in a refugee camp.
So, I ask you this. If given the chance to speak up for these children, would you? Will you take a stand and help end this "modern day Holocaust", as someone described it to me?
And I'm going to do it for the Chance I knew in 7th grade.
Because he couldn't then.
..... but I can now.
(Note : I have edited the post to change the name of "Chance". This is to protect his privacy, and was my decision. -L)