“I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing,” I told myself as I slowly peeled away the layers of the dirty bandage wrapped around his foot.

Sitting on the sidewalk in the mid-afternoon, surrounded by passersby, a few beads of sweat dripped from my forehead onto the hot July cement that lined the streets of my neighborhood. I frowned in concentration as I slowly and carefully cut through the filthy tape that covered his toes.

Unsure of what I was about to find, I could practically hear my heartbeat pounding in my ears.

Photo by mehdi lamaaffar on Unsplash

A short while earlier, I met Yves…

“Sis, it’s mom… she died.”

Five years since you tiptoed into my bedroom early in the morning and whispered the words that no child should ever have to say to their sibling.

You were only 16, still just a kid. I had a decade more of life experience, but even at 26 I still felt so…young. Not ready. Unprepared for the shock and trauma of everything that was unfolding around us.

Looking back, though, I realize now that nothing could have prepared me for what was to come. The only way forward was through, and once we were in the…

While 67 million people across France are grappling with the new confinement measures imposed by the government to slow the spread of COVID-19, a particularly vulnerable group of society is once again glaringly overlooked: asylum seekers.

In northern Paris alone, more than three thousand migrants are living outside in camplike settings. Seeking shelter from both the impending winter and the pandemic in shoddy tents, they do not have the luxury of being able to confine themselves at “home.”

Despite the successful legal action taken earlier this summer by associations attempting to require the government to improve hygiene in the camps…

Mother’s Day. A day to celebrate the woman who gave us life.

More precisely, a day to celebrate the woman who labored and cried and despite her fear, literally pushed us through her body to bring us into existence. No small feat indeed.

If we’re lucky, that mother stays around long enough to raise us, to teach us right from wrong, to do all the “mom” kinds of things. Scheduling doctor’s appointments; shuttling us to and from school, sports and friends; making sure we’re eating enough vegetables and not getting overly ambitious with our ice cream portions.

And if we’re…

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” ― Charles Dickens

My heart has been particularly heavy these past few months, reading the news coming from the United States and Europe. Stories of xenophobia, bigotry and discrimination have been on the rise. Politicians have zeroed in on the “other” to create a mentality that binds people together with fear — with quite a lot of success, unfortunately.

Having spent most of my youth volunteering with the homeless in Baltimore, my many interactions with this particular group of marginalized people allowed me to learn a lot…

My alarm sounds, but I’ve already been awake for a while — unable to sleep through the night due to the flurry of thoughts, concerns and excitement running through my mind. I have a big day ahead of me and I don’t want to oversleep or be late.

The sun rose early, encouraging me to start my day in spite of my puffy, tired eyes. Nightmares caused by my anti-malaria medicine the past couple of days have left their mark on my face. …

November has officially arrived, along with the crisp chill of autumn and the changing of the colors on the trees. We become fully immersed in my favorite season. Home to my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, and the joys of Christmas preparations with loved ones.

As we once again enter into the season of giving, I wanted to share a small moment that made me stop in my tracks and reconsider my priorities — priorities which can often be overlooked in the stress and bustle of daily life.

I had previously shared the story of how I met Arya, a young Afghan…

Three and a half years. 42 months. 1,260 days. 30,240 hours.

That’s how much time has passed since you died, alone in the middle of the night in a hospital bed, cancer having slowly ripped every last ounce of life from your once-healthy body.

It was cruel and unfair, and I’m so sorry that happened to you. I always like to believe that there’s a purpose for everything that occurs in our lives, but 30,240 hours later I still can’t seem to wrap my mind around it.

I can’t believe how much has changed in those three and a half…

A couple of months ago, I wrote a piece following an interview I had conducted with a young Afghan refugee named Arya who was seeking asylum in France. Learning about his two-year trek across 12 countries, mostly on foot, was a humbling moment for me as I tried to imagine putting myself in the same situation, and I was left awestruck by his courage, kindness and determination.

The behind-the-scenes story of how I came to meet Arya and conduct this interview also taught me a few lessons that I’d like to share, now that some time has passed.

In late…

On this day, and every day, I celebrate my first love. My best friend and biggest supporter. The person who gave me life and through his example, taught me the meaning of it. My dad.

Growing up, I was always younger than everyone in my class by at least a year. At the time, I hated it. I was embarrassed on my birthdays when my classmates would ask how old I was turning, and inevitably, expressed their shock at how much of a “baby” I was. …

Amber Christino

Sharing stories of humanity, family and my journey working with marginalized groups. Hoping to help conquer xenophobia with radical compassion.

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