Everyone Has a Story. Meet Hassan

In September of 2010, our family moved to Charlotte, NC to volunteer with an inner city youth ministry called One7. It was founded in 2008 and now has kids from Africa, Vietnam, Burma, Mexico, El Salvador and the United States. The One7 vision: To reach and transform inner city communities and families by intentionally forming cross cultural youth ministry teams while focusing on holistic change and spiritual growth. We are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves, and we have never regretted the decision to move. One thing we have come to understand is that everyone has a story. All it takes is some time and active participation in someone’s life to develop a personal relationship. Just because a person is smiling on the outside, does not mean they are not ripped apart inside.

I want you to meet Hassan. He is from the Congo. Over the last two years, I have become particularly close with Hassan. He is a bright individual with dreams of returning to Africa one day to film a documentary about the kind of life he and his family were fortunate enough to escape. I’ll let him tell you about his life in his own words. This is from a paper he wrote for a school project last year. I’m currently working on a novel about One7, and I included this in one of the chapters. It brought me to tears the first time I sat down with Hassan, and he shared his story.

In his own words…

Life is something that no one should trust because it never stays the same. It’s always changing. What kind of life am I talking about? A life of pain. The life of a refugee. My family and I were refugees for seven years. We fled the Democratic Republic of Congo to Rwanda. We lived in a refugee camp with eighteen thousand people.

We thought we would be safe there, but it wasn’t at all what we had imagined it would be like. The people in the refugee camp live there with such pain and sorrow day and night. They fall ill with no hope of a cure. It’s just like jail. We were not permitted to go out of the camp to look for work or anything to eat. We were prisoners.

It was a life where you might never see your family again. We lived in a constant state of fear which made it hard to sleep at night. There were people dying every day from different diseases. No one thought they would survive to see the next day from the lack of food and protection. There was a large amount of death. We didn’t even have money to buy the material necessary to build ourselves a suitable home. We had nothing. Nothing at all.

Even though we were all from the same country, our ethnic backgrounds made us so different. Instead of working and surviving together as one, we would fight and abuse each other. Most everyone wanted to leave, but we had nothing to return to. Our homes had been destroyed in the war. They even killed what animals we might have had like cows and goats. There was nothing left of what used to be our home.

It was like we were trying to start a new life but had nothing we needed to make that happen. We were stuck in a life that we never asked for. The same people who killed our families wanted to kill us, but we escaped. I don’t understand how someone from the same nation I’m from could try and kill me. Why would they want to do that? We needed to work together to survive. They just couldn’t see that.

In the refugee camp where we lived, there was an agency that helped us with food and many other things. They took care of my family the entire time we were there. They provided us with things we needed in order to survive like blankets, pans, dishes, spoons, and some food. They even built a small lodge for all of us to live in. They also gave us sosoma porridge that we ate to avoid certain diseases.

it really helped all of us in the camp, but the sad thing is that we couldn’t get enough of it. Most of the kids and adults were getting sick every day. There were so many kinds of sickness but the most common ones were HIV/AIDS, pulmonary infections, eye infections, skin diseases, and of course malaria.

It’s so hard to explain exactly what that kind of life is like unless you live through it. Sometimes I just don’t even know what to say except that it was so painful. Even school was hard. We had to walk there early in the morning and stay almost all day. We were never fed while in school. We had water, but that was it. Most all the kids were already starving and it was very hard to learn.

I know how it feels to be a refugee in another country. I have experienced refugee life and it is so hard, but I survived. My whole family survived. We thank God everyday for that. Now we are in the US, and this is my third country. There are so many opportunities and freedoms in this country. It is so different from Africa, especially in the schools. There we were only allowed to wear certain things and we couldn’t speak in class. It’s so different here.

I would like to close with a prayer. God, thank You for taking my family out of the refugee camp we lived in for seven years. Thank you that we learned to read and write even though there are so many who don’t know how to. God, I know you’re always with us and you can see all the other families still in the camps. Please don’t let them feel hopeless. They need help and someone to show that they care about them. Please save them like you saved us. Amen.

Next week: Has Technology Made Us Stupid? (Or is it just me?)

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day,


Categories: ONE7

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57 replies

  1. Incredible! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Great choice of colors!

  2. Touching story and i’ve just read your ONE7, what a wonderful vision you have. keep on developing your ministry. Not everyone can have such a call from God including me.. God Bless You

  3. I read this blog right after reading this story: http://www.mail.com/news/world/1755254-uk-police-unable-to-identify-man-who-fell-sky.html#.7518-stage-hero1-2
    Very sad. Even as bad as America is becoming it is still better than this. And we really need to wake up to what is happening here before we awaken one day and find ourselves in this very predicament. I, too, thank Yahweh for all that we have been given and pray that we do not take it for granted. Great article, very touching. Yahweh bless and keep you safe.

  4. Wow, this touched me! What an amazing young man. Thank you for sharing his story.

  5. Thank you for sharing this moving story. It is amazing to hear his prayer, feel his light even though his suffering was great. Always a great reminder to be grateful for what we do have.

  6. You’re right, Chris, every child of God has a story that deserves to be heard.

  7. Chris, Hassan’s story you have shared illicits responses in me that I cannot even put words to. You’re doing some great work with inner city kids. I look forward to following your blog. Betsy

  8. Very touching. Thank you for sharing, it really keeps things in perspective… it is so easy to get caught up with the frustrations of this country, but we are so blessed.

  9. A drowning man will catch at a sneak to survive. I wish the best for you and your family.

  10. Thanks for sharing Hassan’ story. Very touching.

  11. Reblogged this on Muslimah Directions and commented:
    Sometimes we forget out blessings, and need a reminder.
    What are we doing to help?
    Do we have an obligation to help?

    May Allah make it easy fot all the victims of conflicts around the world. Ameen

  12. Wow, the prayer at the end is what brought emotions to my eyes. What a strong young man.

  13. Hi Chris, even though I’m not Christian and not religious I feel like what you’re doing is what the authentic Jesus would have wished for and blessed. True acts of kindness bridge over nations, countries, religions and cultures. Hasan’s story was very touching.

  14. Thanks, Chris, for sharing Hassan’s story. What a brave young man.

  15. Thanks for following my blog a while back… I love this. Everyone has a story, so true. Hassan’s is very painful; everyone’s is–in one way or another. My love to Hassan, and all.

  16. First, nice to meet you, Chris. and thank you for sharing the story.
    It was very similar to what I heard from one Rwandan person even though his story was about genocide.
    I am Japanese and I think I never can fully understand their experiences since I didn’t experience it. Yet, people should know the facts of such things so that their stories won’t be just one of sad stories on a book shelf. I hope what they say will help us in our future.

  17. Hi Chris! Nice to meet you and thank you for following at in other words and pictures. I am following you as well and look forward to reading your posts..

  18. This is one of those stories that is so heart-wrenching you feel odd pushing the “Like” button. Liking it just doesn’t seem appropriate. Thank you for sharing Hassan’s story. I have added you to my blogroll so that others may learn of you not only as a writer, but the ministry you are doing for kids.

  19. Chris, thank you so much for taking a look at my blog and choosing to follow it, it means a lot. I look forward to reading more of your work!

  20. Lovely blog and cool style of writing. Thank you for not only visiting but also following mine, I’ll keep up with your blog as well, best wishes

  21. Hassan, my heart goes out to you, your family and the ones still in those camps. Why the world works in the way it does I can’t be sure, but I think you have been blessed with an enormous capacity for resilience and hope in the face of despairing situations. Your strength will stand you in good stead and I know your future will be brighter because of it. Let it be a light to others. I am certain you will be a force for change and good to anyone you meet.

    Chris, thanks for sharing :)

  22. Chris, Thanks for stopping by and following my blog so I could discover you. I look forward to your posts. This is a very inspiring post.

  23. Hey Chris, don’t know how you found my blog, but i’m glad i read you blog. Keep Inspiring :)

  24. So very moving–from someone who knows and has seen both sides. I was deeply touched by the prayer–very unselfish… Thank you.

  25. Gratitude and blessing manifest themselves in different ways for all of us. There are lessons to be learned from every life that touches ours. I look forward to reading more about your journey and hopefully more about Hassan. Thank you for the follow! K

  26. From this day forward, Hassan and other people like him will constantly be in my prayers.

  27. Thank you for subscribing to my blog. Because of that, I had a look at yours, and thank you for sharing Hassan’s words. They are sad, but also they provide hope.

  28. Thanks for dropping by my blog and following. All the best to you.

  29. When we share our beliefs, our minds can still manufacture the illusion of separateness. When we share our stories, our hearts understand our fundamental oneness. Thank you for bringing us the story of Hassan and his family. Everyone has a story. Let us make time to listen to them. Blessings, Alia

  30. Very inspiring Chris, and Hassan shines a light on how lucky we are. What stuck with me was that even though Hassan has experienced great displacement and hardship, he was still thinking of others in his prayers. We are all on this planet together.

  31. Thank you for introducing us to Hassan. His story is compelling. I’m glad we hear it in Hassan’s voice. It is no coincidence that your paths have crossed. Continue to be a blessing to each other. Thanks, also, for stopping by my site.

  32. “Life is something that no one should trust because it never stays the same”. – a powerful beginning to a powerful story. And an amazing young man!

  33. How sad that so many children world wide have to suffer like this! …Paula xx

  34. Thanks for sharing, Chris. So important to keep these issues in front of mind to help raise awareness and ultimately help such people in need. Great post.

  35. Yes, a moving story. But something better is just around the corner, I bet. Wishing you all great happiness and success.

  36. I’m sorry to say that as good as your ministry may well be, it just doesn’t comply with the ministry Jesus commanded Christians should perform, namely; to make known the name of God and his Kingdom. (Matthew 6:9,10)

  37. a very interesting blog, Chris. I have added it to my list of favourites. And thank you for subscribing to mine

  38. There are many that have struggled like Haasan, its unfortunate that the struggles continue. thank you for sharing.

  39. Thanks for sharing. There are so many stories like this out there. My husband is from Zambia Africa, and we’ve met people who have survived like this. We have dreams/plans of making a difference there.

  40. It’s so encouraging to always read stories of faith. Thanks a lot for sharing. Praise God!

  41. I love that you’ve taken the time to get to know an individual, that many others would’ve looked over. And you even made the effort to spread his story. Kudos!

  42. I’m so glad Hassan has made it here. Thank you for sharing his story.

  43. Thanks for sharing this……..I pray that God’s grace continues to rest on Hassan and His family and that many other refugees be afforded a new life.

  44. I am again amazed at the resiliency of people, who come through such pain (physical and mental) and still manage to function (maybe better) than those born to security and money. The power of God is amazing! Thanks for sharing Chris

  45. His first sentence struck me. I’m glad I read this and thank you for this meaningful share, Chris.

  46. Reblogged this on The Critical Eye and commented:
    A must read story, reminded me of how tough life could be.

  47. Sometimes we forget, how tough life can be. God bless hassan.

  48. Thank you for sharing Hassan’s story in his own words.

  49. We have so much to be thankful for… thanks for sharing Hassan’s words.

  50. Thank you for sharing Hassan’s story, it is so important that we the people of the United States be aware of what others are going through in this world as we tend to isolate and think only of ourselves and our minor problems. We cannot turn our back on the world, for Hassan is the future of our world. Blessings to you both.

  51. Wonderful Story Chris. Thanks so very much for sharing his life with us. It is often shocking to people to know what is going on with the world. It is so easy to stick our heads in the sand, but I am glad you shared his life and his story.

  52. Thanks for this story. I’m so glad for the good ending. I worked with Hmong refugees for many years so I feel the pain refugees go though. Thanks for sharing this. :-)

  53. Having worked with refugees I understand the pain described by Hassan. Thanks for raising awareness.

  54. This is so moving. Thank you, Chris, for sharing this.

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