20 June, 2014

Tell a different story: a long way to dignity

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Category: European Action Day, Refugees' stories
Ruxandra Pandea
12 pm


A long way to dignity

by Camille Thomas


Once upon a time,

A couple and their three sons had a mud house in  a small village far, far away. Although they lived with the hand in the mouth most of the time, the strength of their ties kept them together.

One day, the father passed away all of a sudden. The mother had to sell the house and live with her children in a tent  in the garden to be able to sustain the family. When the last crop was eaten and the last drop of water drunk, the mother felt in despair. Her eldest son, then, told her: “Beloved Mother, give me my father shoes and coat and let me go to the North continent to work and send you money to raise my brothers”. Although the mother protested at first, a man from the village came to visit her and said: “Respected mother, let your son go as nothing is left for him here. I can arrange the travel in safe conditions for free”. Pressed by this man’s greed and her son’s hope, she gave up and shed tears while watching her son traveling away.

During the travel, the son endured many hardships. The man turned out quickly to ask him for money as a reimbursement of a so-called debt the son didn’t remember to have been told about. He pressed him to work at the moonlight and sleep in the street of cold and dark cities, begging for food in the day, robbing some tourists at night. Any protest from the son was quickly silence through tough beatings. In this wide foreign city, the son was isolated with no one to turn to from his village, without any siblings of him. He had to learn how to behave like a man even before having achieved his life as a teenager.

However, the son never gave up his beliefs, values and the education he received from his parents. Despite the hard working and living conditions, the lack of legal status and family support, information about his rights and the widespread discrimination, he tried to learn language. He tried to catch any words he could from people talking in the streets, or any left alone newspaper on the benches. He also used to sit in the playground of the school, right below a class window, to listen to the class teaching.

After a couple of month, the son could master the language of its host country and eventually ask for help. He turned towards a charity which give him practical and legal information to get out of the claws of the man and responded to his basic needs. As the son was already very autonomous, he could soon find the way to school. From that moment on, he never felt tired of learning and reading books his teachers used to give him after class. Education soon became the milestone of his stay in this wide city and the best way to integrate. Like any other young person for the first time, he could go to school on a daily basis, soon achieve some internship and enter internships. Like any other young person for the first time, he joined a rugby team and learn how to play rugby but also share important collective moment with locals.

Unlike any other young person, he did his best to join a charity in order to be able to give back what he received and help the people he met in the street before. After a while, he did find a work and was able to send remittances to his mum and brother and sister. Like any other young adult, he aspired once to marry in his host country and establish a family there, teaching to his future sons and daughters both the values he learnt from his parents and everything he learnt from his migration experience.

What the story says is that when host country gives to the courageous migrants information on their rights and ensure their access to basic economic, civic and social life, this shall benefit both the person and the host country.


Refugee Day

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