A Refugee’s Grateful Heart

“Gratitude is the memory of the heart." This statement holds a lot of meaning for me; it is sealed in my heart, the heart of a refugee.

Life away from my family was, and still is, very hard. Many times I wanted to give up and return home. Danger lurks everywhere – in people and places - for someone like me living in a new country. But all the pain and hardships are more bearable knowing God is with me. In my lonely moments, I ask God, “Where are you? I cannot understand your plan for me." In reality, I am not alone. God has surrounded me with Good Shepherd Mission people. I can feel the Holy Spirit leading me and God protecting me.

I have been thinking of all that the Good Shepherd Mission has done for my sister - Rosa who has been resettled in the US - and me. We will never ever forget our life in Malaysia. I will share our experiences with others wherever I go. Many wonderful and incredible people had helped and guided me. Among them is Theresa Symons, the first person I got to know here. She is one person whom I admire, for she is my benefactor, counsellor and friend. She encourages me and helps me to change from a negative to a positive person. She taught me on how to walk the right path so that I will not make mistakes.

The day I started work at Villamaria Kindergarten was a day of shock and surprise. The children were not “regular” children – they were all very intelligent! I felt inadequate to work with them as I did not have the qualifications. Regardless, I felt comfortable and realised God had already opened this door for me even before I walked in. With the help of the Good Shepherd Sisters and the staff of Villamaria, I learnt to cope and get this far.

The Good Shepherd Sisters and the lay staff are wonderful people. They empowered me and helped me to feel more confident and courageous. I have not met such good people before.

I imagine that if I ever meet St Mary Euphrasia, this is what I will tell her: “You encourage us and you walk together with us. You value everyone regardless of her background and status in life. You are my shelter, boss, counsellor, and friend. I like your vision of ‘One person is of more value than the whole world’. You do not discriminate. Villamaria is like my parents in Malaysia. Gratitude will remain in my heart forever. I am proud to be part of the Good Shepherd Mission started by you. I am happy with my life in Malaysia.”

There is so much more I want to say and share but I cannot find the words to express them. May God bless all the people of the Good Shepherd Mission, and may the Holy Spirit guide your every footstep.

Thank you, very, very, very much!

Cecilia Nang Lamh Niang

Postscript: Cecilia was successfully resettled in the US in July 2012.