Monday, September 6, 2010

Who Chooses to be a Refugee?

Father and daughter resting in Khartoum North, Sudan.
Got an email from the Red Cross today, asking if I would be interested in a voluntary mission with refugees here in Sweden. The email went out to everyone who had taken the basic courses in psychological first aid and support. How I want to! There's a refugee office in Borås, not 35 km from here, that every day gets visits from people in unimaginable situations. To even think of the histories they're carrying make me dizzy. They've been running away from wars, abuse, murder, rapes, famine, diseases and a ton of other horrors that a lucky Swede can't even begin to try to understand. And they come here, to a country with all the resources to help them, just to be met with suspiciosness and a general lack of comprehension. They're seen as burdens, even as threats, as "those refugees". As if they were all one living organism with the sole purpose of sucking the life out of our beloved country.

What foolishness drives those people who just don't want to understand that no one, not a single person on this planet, chooses to be a refugee. Who chooses to leave her birth country, family, job, schoo, friends, language, religion, everything she knows in life - just to come to a country that despises her presence? Who chooses hostility in a rich country instead of understanding in her home country? I know I wouldn't. 

I'm aware of how lucky I am to be born in Sweden. And it really is just luck. I could have just as easily been born in Indonesia, Congo or Guatemala. Maybe I would have grown up in a mud cottage in the country side, walking many miles every day just to get some drinking water. Maybe I would have seen my family get killed by the militia, maybe my mother would have been raped by bandits. Maybe my children would have been taken from me to be trained as child soldiers - who's first mission would be to rape and kill me. Maybe my brother would die in AIDS, or my sister in child birth. Maybe my whole village would be burned to the ground, or maybe I would be stoned to death because someone spread a rumour that I had been unfaithful to my husband. 

Maybe, that time in Sudan, the rebels would have refused to negotiate with the UN and my two kidnapped friends would never return alive. It's all about luck - of having it or of not having it. So far I've been lucky, and I will consider myself to be lucky until the day when I have something real to complain about.


Marianne said...

Så bra skrivet! Så väldigt bra skrivet! Jag önskar att fler hade samma insikter. Tyvärr är det tvärtom, jag har förstått att fientligheten mot människor som kommer till Sverige för att få trygghet och skydd i stället har ökat. Vilket gör mig oändligt sorgsen.

Meme said...

Tack! Det var den reaktionen jag hade hoppats på att få. Jag tror att de flesta inte ens lägger ner tid på att fundera på vad de egentligen tycker om flyktingfrågan. De bara "flyter med" i någon slags osynlig debatt som verkar få de flesta att ha en viss åsikt utan att ens veta vart den kommer ifrån.

Jag önskar folk kunde tänka efter lite mer, och vara lite mer konsekventa i sitt tänkande och handlande.