Safe Haven, the Song
by Joanna Dooley
Jon: In 2018, we had a visit from an international aid worker to assist with some of the refugee families we help on the Turkish Syrian border. This woman has been a key player in over five major medical camps in Europe.
While visiting the refugees, our guest broke down in tears. The next day we were struggling over just how complex these issues are, and just wishing there was a simple solution and an end to war. While driving, I told her of a song that comforted me with my work. The song, “Safe Haven” by Joanna Dooley, almost perfectly describes the struggles the refugees face. She found the song on YouTube and was immediately taken by Joanne’s gripping and angelic voice, set to her father’s lovely music.
Tears began to flow when she heard the words “by faith we set sail at the dawning of day ...” She had just journeyed the Aegean Sea from Greece to Turkey, where she had a very emotional experience. While crossing, she kept staring down at the sea, sadly wondering how many refugees, especially children, are beneath the waters. Hearing this stanza of the song brought a flood of images of children washed up on the Greek and Turkish shores flashing before us.
The song continued. The line “When life treats us hard, by the foot, by the yard, knocks us over again and again” opened the floodgate of tears again. Pictures filled our mind of streams of refugees walking across Europe, braving the elements, being mistreated.
Aid workers often suffer from “refugee fatigue,” and this song brought a healing balm. She played it three times, holding on to every word, and I could see that Joanna’s soothing voice was bringing comfort to this elderly woman who has given so much.
The song closes with a message of hope, about “our tears to cease, in the harbor of peace, as we come to that safe haven.” The song is such an inspiration to us working with refugees to try and provide them a “safe haven.”