“I am a Refugee!” by Mahdia Hossaini & a photo taken by Nargis Kohgadai.
“I am a refugee. My parents are refugees. My brothers and sisters are also refugees. My grandparents were also refugees. We are a generation that has been carrying the burden of being a refugee for many years.
On some days, this burden becomes heavy and forcing us to bend our backs, but we straighten up again and continue on our way. It’s been years since I found out that there was a day called Refugee Day. I did not know back in those years if I should celebrate this day and be happy about it or if I should mourn and be sad. Years have passed since the days when I returned to my home crying from school just because my classmates called me a refugee.
Years have passed since I blamed my parents for migrating. Years have passed since the days when I chose to hide my refugee status from others. But it took me years to realize that being a refugee was not a crime. It took me years to realize that being a refugee was not the fault of my parents. It took me years to learn not to be ashamed of being a refugee, but to be proud of it. Because I had the power to move on knowing all the problems and hardships, to take all the difficult paths, to give up all attachments, to give up my home and my memories. The path that I may be able to enjoy like a normal human being.
Now, as a refugee, I know that Refugee Day is a day to raise awareness of the plight of migrants to the world. Being a refugee made me stronger. The path I take to achieve my goals is much longer and harder than the path that non-refugees take. Being a refugee means being under a magnifying glass. Being a refugee means that whenever a crime occurs in the host country, the first fingers will point at you. Being a refugee means feeling embarrassed when you are sitting on a subway or bus seat and someone from the host country wants to tell you something with his eyes. Being a refugee means not being allowed to choose your own appearance or turning a blind eye to some of your dreams and goals if you insist on the appearance that you want. Being a refugee means checking the asylum laws every day. Laws that change every day, every hour. Being a refugee means forcing a child to stay away from his or her parents or vice versa. Sometimes being a refugee is also a pleasure to be received in the host community. Being a refugee means the opportunity to meet different people, different cultures. Being a refugee made me a different character. Being a refugee is an inseparable part of my life.”