Miracles amid despair...

Ken's introduction to Phoenix was brutal and under tragic circumstances. He arrived at the Phoenix Coliseum in August of 2005 amid a wave of refugees from Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina.

He lost everything including some family members. Ken joined hundreds who were issued temporary 6 month Arizona identification cards intended to assist the victims in replacing other documentation such as birth certificates and such.

Some background on Ken.. he was born in Nicaragua to American parents, he was aware of this, it was no secret. However, until Hurricane Katrina stole his identity, he had no idea his birth was never registered with the American Consulate. So when the kind volunteers who did wonderful work for the hundreds who were tragically displaced could not quite figure out how to assist.. Ken quietly disappeared into the homeless population on the streets of Phoenix.

Ken surfaced at the Ecumenical Chaplaincy for the Homeless in 2009. Our attempts to obtain a Report of a Birth Overseas were hampered by Ken's now expired temporary Arizona state ID. The federal government is very picky about dispersing the information hidden within it's depths. Ken and I filled out the paperwork and I wrote a letter pointing out how through no fault of his own a natural disaster took more than his possessions, it took his identity.

Miracle number ONE:
The United States Department of State wrote a letter back to Ken. (unheard of!! A personal response to a desperate plea!) A Passport Vital Records officer let Ken know that his birth was never recorded but supplied him with very pertinent information letting him know that what he needed was a Certificate of Citizenship from the USCIS (Homeland Security). Without this knowledge our next step would have been impossible to figure out. Thank you God and B.

Ken and I laboriously fill out the paperwork for his Certificate of Citizenship..a form called an N-600. We fill out a fee waiver request, as $460 is not readily available when you live in a homeless camp in the dry river bottom. He waits patiently... only to have his request denied.

Miracle ONE and a HALF: (not quite a full miracle.. disappointment over the denial lingers)
However, they give him an appointment at the local INS office.. also unheard of as his ID is expired. Security is very tight at this building and entry is denied without valid, current state issued ID. Ken goes to his appointment only to be told he needs documents that were washed away to prove his relationship to his late father.

Ken languishes for a bit... he try's so very hard not to slip into the abyss of being invisible, living in a desert wash and being told he's a nobody.. What did he do to deserve that? nothing.. nothing at all.

Today Ken knocked on the office door.. he had some papers he found of his fathers, just copies but he found them.. while showing them to me he started telling me a story....

Miracle TWO:
Ken was at his camp for the evening not too long ago and another resident of the makeshift camp approached him to tell him to go to a Project Homeless Connect (sponsored by the United Way this moves around and brings providers and hundreds of volunteers together to inundate the homeless with services and assistance in one place). This gentleman volunteered to assist and was adamant that Ken attend. Ken reluctantly took all his paperwork, loaded his backpack and jumped on his bike to attend the event.

Project Homeless Connect assigns a volunteer to each guest. The volunteer gives one on one assistance and walks the guest to each service provider to assure they get what they need. Many times the homeless don't know what they need, let alone the assistance that they are qualified to receive.

Ken's volunteer took him to the MVD table... he explained his predicament briefly and handed them all his immigration papers including my pleading letters written to the Department of State and the USCIS. The three women at the MVD table read the letters about Ken losing everything to Hurricane Katrina and being unable to move forward with his life because of his lack of documentation and you know what they did?? THEY ISSUED KEN AN ARIZONA STATE IDENTIFICATION CARD! After 4 years proudly and carefully carrying his expired 2006 ID he has an ID that is good until 2011. He was in tears... I'm not sure if those women know the depth of what they did for Ken that day but it touched my heart.

Ken is still working on getting his immigration documentation. It is the last thing he needs but I assure you he will get it!!! God has plans for this man... he will persevere and he will do it with a smile on his face. May God continue to bless him and allow us to see the lesson here. Ken never blamed God, he never blamed the system, he never cried over the injustice... Ken persevered. God bless him. :)