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Our stories matter, refugees are not the crisis

Published on 31.12.2021 at 11:53

Do not start with a boat. Do not show it lurching on the waves, packed with terrified, hopeless people, and staved crying children. Do not focus on their past; the homes they left, the loved ones lost, the bribes paid, the calculations made and agonised over. Instead, let me tell you my story. I do not just enjoy talking about my journey, I feel compelled to; to offer the world a new refugee narrative. To show what's possible, that we are not a crisis. The real crisis is that media and politicians tell misleading narratives about refugees. So, refugees are not a crisis, it is the narratives we tell about them which are the crisis.

 

I had everything that I needed. I had an education, a law degree from the best university. I had friends and a house I thought I would get married in one day. Being granted refugee status, I had a chance to start a new life. But at first, it was hard to feel anything but lost and lonely. Most refugees are broken when they arrive; especially when they find themselves not understanding what is going on around them, not being able to understand the new language and culture. When I arrived, I did not speak French and had no friends. Depression plagued me along with my sad memories of family and friends lost, and a life interrupted. I felt like a child struggling to understand the world around.

 

I am against pernicious prejudices faced by refugees. The belief that refugees come to other countries to take people’s jobs and collect welfare checks. That they come for handouts, do not pay any taxes, that they are lazy. That they are extremists. These are the sad, cliché stories we often see in the media, striping refugees of their previous success and their ambitions for a better future. They make me feel guilty. Guilty that I could not show the world what I overcame and accomplished, the achievements I believe other refugees do surpass. This story is my new success. One that is still growing, that demands openness and acceptance. A success that gives other refugees, like me, hope and pride!

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