During visits, which are similar to visiting someone in prison, one sits in a small bay, with a phone, and speaks to someone on the other side of bullet proof glass. We've had the honor of meeting and becoming friends with people from Central and South America, Mexico and Cameroon. Folks have shared their stories, fears and hopes.
In the last couple of months, a few volunteers from Casa De Paz have become increasingly invested in the life of a man named Selky, from Cameroon. Cameroon is in the midst of a volatile conflict between regions of the country, resulting in the displacement and persecution of many people. (more on that here , if you want more background).
Selky has been in the detention center for about five months after escaping persecution, physical, sexual and emotional torture in and spending about 4 months on a journey to seek asylum in America. Selky was forced to flee his country, leaving behind his baby girl, young son and wife in hiding. Selky is a pastor and is continually trusting God's will on this journey. His faith in God is unwavering, and he is using his gifts to speak into the lives of others in detention, as well into our lives during our regular visits. Every week, we feel like the lucky ones after our time together because of the sheer faith and devotion Selky pours into us each time we sit with him. Selky is leading a prayer group inside the detention center, giving purpose and hope to so many, and we've just learned that the group is praying for us, their friends on the other side of the glass. How humbling and beautiful.
Regardless of faith or religion, we are amazed by the light that Selky shines in such a dark, dark time.
Selky does not have a lawyer to help represent him during his asylum hearings. With a lawyer, successful asylum cases are very low, but without a lawyer, it's next to impossible to win (less than 3%). For our friends who have fled violence in Cameroon to be deported back to Cameroon is an almost guaranteed death sentence, for Selky and likely his wife and children.
Myself and others I visit with have felt compelled to hire a lawyer on behalf of Selky and after much research we have found a lawyer who will confidently represent him. This lawyer is also from Cameroon, and in an incredible twist of fate, knows Selky from many years prior in Cameroon. Selky's final hearing is August 27th, giving us just enough time to gather the necessary documents needed from Cameroon for this process. The lawyer has agreed to take the case for $6000.
If Selky is granted asylum, he hopes to live in Maryland with his half brother and eventually send for his wife and two children. It's inspiring and compelling to imagine the kind of life Selky and his family will be able to have here, and the incredible stories that could be set in motion if he is granted asylum.
We're sharing this story with all of you in the hope you'll feel compelled to walk alongside Selky, too. I know so many of us are feeling helpless among the constant stream of horrific news coming from the border and from inside detention centers. It's easy to forget that there are practical, real ways to make a difference and effect change, and we believe this is one of them.
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