In all human affairs, there are some who take advantage of others. In her letter (“Asylum seekers’ waiting period cuts scam efforts,” Aug. 7), Julie Tosswill admitted, “Some of the stories are true, but many likely aren’t.”

I can testify to a few of the true stories, in regard to some Africans in our parish (Sacred Heart/St. Dominic’s Church). It’s what I’ve heard firsthand.

In recent years, six asylees who fled for their lives asked me to translate their stories from French into English. It’s part of the documentation required by the federal immigration office in Boston.

One asylee was a government worker in Burundi who became a whistleblower. A few came from Congo, two of them women who were raped just before escaping.

Two others were young men who were active, along with their parents, protesting the injustices of their government.

I wept in translating the story of another, from Rwanda. His father was a Tutsi; his mother, a Hutu.

The only reason he survived the Rwandan genocide in 1994 is that the body of his aunt – who, before his eyes, was massacred while raising her arms to protect her young nephew – fell over him. And so he was taken for dead. That’s only the beginning of his story of horror.

I give thanks that Maine newspapers relate the stories “that pull our heartstrings,” as Ms. Tosswill complained. As I see it, simple humanity requires we give asylum to people fleeing from such persecution – and that persecution goes on.

Besides that, we in Maine need the energy, talent and youth our African brothers and sisters bring us. Their voices have greatly enlivened our choir and by doing so, the whole parish.

Elaine G. McGillicuddy

Portland