Many of our ancestors came to this country to seek a better life for themselves and their children. Life in the old country left much to be desired and in desperation they sailed to the far side of the world in search of something better. Many needed help to emigrate, from their parish and from the colonial government.
Many of them were in abject poverty. No food, no education, no clothes, nowhere to live but the workhouse. I am thinking in particular of the thousands of immigrants who left Ireland during the Great Famine. The potato crops failed two years in a row, the weather was too rough to go fishing, and there was no food. They were evicted from their homes for not paying rent and the workhouses were overcrowded and couldn’t cope. Typhoid and other fatal diseases were rampant. It was a time that we today can scarcely imagine.
And yet there are many in the world even today that live this way. Watching their children starve and die and being able to do nothing. Refugee camps are overcrowded and under-equipped. Borders are closed to keep them out. Diseases spread easily. Natural disasters flood the landscape and wipe out crops, homes and livelihoods. Governments keep charity workers out.
There is as much poverty and misery in the world now as there was when our ancestors sailed for many months to find a new life here in the Colonies. A few, a very few, are accepted as immigrants to start a life here and elsewhere, in a new country with a new language and customs. The rest hang on as best they can. Or they don’t.