Only A Single Night Shelter At Your House

By Malika Cornel, who recently graduated from the Institute of Accountancy, Arusha. She lives in Arusha, Tanzania. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

Warsan Shire, a British – Somali poet in her poem ‘Home’ states that “You have to understand, that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land”.

I’m hesitating to say that I understand what the refugees are passing through. This is due to the fact that I have never been one. But that is not a pass for someone not to be concerned. Life is full of dynamics. An ancient Greek philosopher (Heraclitus) states, “Change is the only constant in life”.  I can imagine it this way; recently in my country (Tanzania) we experienced a ferry capsize in Lake Victoria. More than 200 people passed away. Within less than twenty seconds it was no longer safe for anyone who was inside. On my mind I can create pictures on how the situation was. First of all the astonishment among them. Imagine being there as a family especially having children with you and before you can even turn to them the ferry sank already. In fact, if you can swim the next thing to do, would likely be to search for them. If you find yourself outside the ferry among the wishes you will have is to wish that they are not in the innermost.

I believe that everyone loves being at home. Everyone loves to live as a family. On top of that, everyone loves being surrounded with his or her own people. Home gives someone a sense of belongingness.  Have you ever been for a sleep over at a neighbor’s or distant cousin’s house? Do you remember the extent of freedom you had? Do you remember how you even ask for permission when you want to go to the washroom? What about eating? Did you have a say on what dishes should be prepared? Even during sports events such as football, you can sometimes see the footballers shed tears without sound when they are singing their national anthem. That shows their love and passion for their home country.

In fact, the difficult or hostile environments such as drought and famine force people to flee from their countries. Europe has experienced high level of immigration especially from African countries recently. It includes both illegal and legal immigrants. Some of these refugees have been subjected to death in transition. Some had no other option but to be separated from their families. Women have been subject to sexual violence. The spread of diseases due to unhealthy lifestyle.

In the last few years, my country (United Republic of Tanzania) has been a destination for the refugees from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Tanzania government and United Nations have made it possible for the some of these refugees who meet the conditions to acquire citizenship. This has broadened the freedom of these new citizens and for them to not only study well but also to engage themselves in economic activities. But no matter where someone goes, home will always be part of that person. Home holds memories that cannot be easily erased.

I also can relate the quote this way; sometimes a parent can give her son or daughter for adoption. It occurs when ones feel like she won’t be able to sustain in life with the child. It does not mean that she is heartless and avoid responsibilities. It just sometimes become necessary thing to do for the child to live well. It can even occur when you let your child leave you in village and go to live in town with a relative; so that the child can get education (the one you did not afford to offer) and later be able to provide for the family.  I call all these sacrifices. Sacrifices that aim at bringing the positive change in the family and the community at large. Refugees want us to show and prove that we understand what they are passing through. Also by allowing refugees to be part of our community without being discriminated especially in social services provision; until a time when the situation is great for them to return back home.

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