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Western Forum: A poem on refugees reminds us why we do this work

Last week, several staff members of Migrant Clinicians Network headed up to Portland, Oregon, for the 2016 Western Forum for Migrant and Community Health. Karen Mountain, RN, MSN, MBA, the Chief Executive Officer for Migrant Clinicians Network was particularly taken by a poem that was read aloud by Dr. Tina Castaneres, a local Oregon doctor and longtime friend of MCN. She read “Home,” a poem by Warsan Shire. Here is an excerpt:

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilet
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

Read the complete poem here. When we take a moment to think of the millions of people who are on the move this very minute -- either setting out from the place they called home, in the midst of a dangerous migration, or settling in a new land -- we also find ourselves grateful for the many health justice advocates around the country and the world who actively seek to support them as fellow humans striving to be happy and healthy. Enjoy a few photos of the Western Forum from our staff at MCN. And thank you for your work!


MCN's Jillian Hopewell, MPA, MA presents a session entitled “Migrant Students: Fostering Health Care Partnerships that Work for Kids and Their Families,” with Tammy Alexander, MEd, from the School-Based Health Alliance.


MCN's Ileana Ponce-Gonzalez, MD, MPH, CNC presents a session entitled “Models for Addressing Oral Health Disparities” with Laura Flores Cantrell (not pictured), from Washington Dental Service Foundation.


Opening plenary session of the 2016 Western Forum for Migrant and Community Health.

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