Reflections of a Former Refugee

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘refugee’?

I think people often look at the word ‘refugee’ with negative connotations due to the images and discussions that typically accompany it.

Maybe it’s because I was once a refugee, but I think of that word and I think of courage, resilience, strength, hope, loss, fear, longing, and bravery. I can’t begin to fathom what it was like for my parents to not know what the next thing to do would be or what would happen to them and their children in the day-to-day. It was always about surviving until the next day and keeping us kids fed and safe, and I feel that takes a lot of courage, strength, and hope.

I didn’t back then, but I now understand a bit why my parents were so hard on me as the first-born living some of my childhood years in a refugee camp. I was still a curious kid so it’s no surprise that I wandered off and when I got in trouble for leaving my siblings behind, I would then take them with me. But I would get in trouble still because I wasn’t supposed to be wandering off in the first place, whether or not I took my sisters along. Life in a refugee camp for an independent and strong-willed six years-old was quite the adventurous one.

Although I have not yet arrived where I would like to be in life, I have come a long distance physically, mentally, and ambitiously. As I sit here writing this my loving husband is seated next to me playing Animal Crossing and every few minutes giving me some loving. In August of this year I will be celebrating one year of officially becoming a U.S. citizen (yes, I became a citizen before I married my husband). I’ve received education (there are still girls and women in the world who do not get this opportunity) and have worked and developed important skills. The list goes on, but all this to say that I am grateful for every single experience and hardship life has presented at my door from when I was born to now.

The young refugee is now a grown woman with a place to rest her head and call home, and with a person that helps her feel safe in it.