Living in the mouth of the shark: we are all refugees

UNHCR refugee photo

A young refugee from South Sudan at the Numanzi Transit Center where meals and temporary accommodation are provided by UNHCR in Adjumani, northern Uganda. © UNHCR /Will Swanson

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Teodora Crãciun, a first year medical student. Ms Crãciun is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). The opinion expressed in this piece belongs to the writer and does not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”

Warsan Shire, author of Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth

Right now as I am writing this, itʹs 11 am. Thursday morning. I am sitting comfortably on my sofa with my new flavoured cup of coffee and some vegan biscuits on the table in front of me. But can everyone enjoy their mornings like i do right now? Maybe yes, maybe not. You couldnʹt say that for sure. Some canʹt enjoy their mornings, because they have to leave for work, perhaps too early. Some donʹt enjoy mornings at all.

And some donʹt have that place to call home, where they can enjoy their mornings care free. But who, indeed, has that safe place, called home? Because at one point in everyoneʹs life there has been a time when it seemed like throwing themselves on the mercy of strangers in a foreign ”home”.

Wars and persecution have driven people from their ”homes”. At sea, a frightening number of refugees and migrants are dying each year. On land, they struggle trying to feed in, but they slowly head towards an imminent death. In spite of all this, EVERYONE has the RIGHT to have their safe place. To feel confident. To feel loved and appreciated. To improve themselves. To share their thoughts, feelings and ideas with others. And most important to feel … free … to truly be themselves.

“Taking Mum’s hand, I whispered “Are we really safe, here?” ”

Alwyn Evans, author of Walk in My Shoes

Safety is NOT just a noun. Safety is NOT OPTIONAL. Safety is a condition to life. Itʹs something that comes with the bliss of life. You are never too ”cool” to feel safe. You are never too old, too poor to enjoy the comfort of your own life in all ways possible. Those who try (and make) others feel inferior have no bigger right than that of feeling safe in your own ”home”. Not today. Not never shall anyone be ashamed, yet, they do, we do, we all do … even due to the small things. You all may have heard that saying … ”itʹs the little things that make happy moments.”

Well, unfortunately, this goes both ways. Itʹs the little things that make those shameful and humiliating moments, too. Without the bad, how would we know the good? This is one of the questions seemingly following each step we take. But … the real question hidden behind this puzzle would the truth be told … isnʹt the bad nowadays, too much for us, to even perceive the littlest good still existing in the world? While some dream of luxury, others arenʹt even half way there, dreaming simply about the safety long gone. The way strangers on the street look at others, hurts them.

The emotions sent through just a simple look, spread millions of words. Words that hurt. Words that make a ”home”  feel like the mouth of a shark. No longer safe. No longer blissful. No longer a home. Donʹt let those looks change you and the ones you love. Donʹt let those looks change anyone. Because it really shouldnʹt.

Itʹs in your power what, when and how to change. Itʹs a human right. But HUMANs has unfortunately, became a noun, too, for those who took the HOME from others and easily converted it to an OPTIONAL noun. We crave for rights. But we forget our responsibilities. We crave for luxury. But we take the home from others and hope to get away with it. We judge serial killers, thieves, politicians, kamikaze. But merely with our words, war weapons come to life in a rough manner.

“It takes a lot of confidence, and self-love and self-worth to realize that you are capable. And that you have every right to leave your lane, and to do things in the same way that other people do.”

Allan Hennessy, freelance journalist

When a person is given refugee status, they have just 28 days to find accommodation and apply for mainstream benefits before they are evicted from asylum accommodation. Many refugees become homeless at this stage. Yet, instead of helping them, people still treat them differetly. They simply seem to make out a case for kamikaze. Most people believe that all refugees will have a nefative impact on their ”home”, thus, accepting them is nothing to be taken into consideration.

Although helping others can also help you evolve and become a better person, it is easier to just sit back and not take part into things that may consume your energy for other things rather than the luxury of your own. Well, here is another fact. Despite the one that refugees have nothing to do with kamikaze, at least they believe in something, whilst others just live a li(f)e.

Fighting a so called fear, with violence and negativity wonʹt lead nowhere. Each and every one has that particular fright of being tamed. The misunderstanding comes when we cease to accept the fact that somehow, more or less, we are all in the same situation, to put it in a nutshell. We live and die, wishing for safety and soundness.

“I want the ability to continue my studies and have safety for me and to protect my brother and for him to continue his studies.  It doesn’t matter where we go, as long as itʹs  safe.”

Ashraf Khalil Alhatem, 17

Today we all may have a place to call home. Tomorrow some may have theirs devoured. Safety may sometimes not even make the top 10 priorities in our life. By the time it did, certain people might have even lost it, without even realizing it. Itʹs a mandatory right, that shall begin and at the same time, end, but changing our attitudes from ”diversity, a threat to freedom”, to ”UNITY in diversity”.

Last, but not least, it is ALL in the PERSPECTIVE. Even if 90% agree on the same thing as it being the good one, it still doesnʹt mean that it is, indeed. Because, you see … nothing is what it seems. Not that seemingly goodness. Nor the kamikaze. Not the home we thought we had. Nor the weather. Some dislike going out while raining, while fewer enjoy the coolness and the soft touch of the small fragile raindrops. Thus, not even you, nor me. Remember telling you prior to this, that it was, Thursday, 11 am?

Truth be told, right now as i am concluding this, itʹs a while after 11 … pm … Wednesday night. I am drinking a cup of tea, sitting comfortable between two blankets. The vegan delights were what they seemed from the start. As every story, no matter how real or not, has anyway – its piece of truth from where it was born in the first place. Right now … what is your perspective?

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest serving First Lady of the US

About the author

My name is Teodora Crãciun, but i am better known as Zoe. I am a first year medical student. I love photography, writing, peanut butter, Korea, baking muffins, winter sports and origami. As even salt looks like sugar, I would go for cinnamon anytime – tasty just the way it is. I believe that no matter what happens, the key is in the perspective. Therefore, i invite you to join me on the bright side. Not sure if they have cookies, but iʹll bring some muffins right away.

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