Around the world, people seeking asylum arrive in a state of anxiety, after surviving horrors of war, massacres, genocide, ambush, harassment, imprisonment, rape, torture; rejected by society because of religion, ethnicity, tribe or sexual orientation. Once arrived, the first thing that comes to our minds: “Finally it’s over, I will live well” … Wrong!
I am not going to talk about the conditions in the asylum centres, but the authorities often house asylum seekers in places far removed, in a forest or an out of the way place. People live as a monks secluded in meditation, or as in a retirement home. A person who was rejected in his country, comes to be rejected again and removed from the circle of life.
I fully understand that it’s a long process for the authorities to investigate each case and I know this is not an easy job, but it is too slow for a person who has lost everything and is away from family, home, culture, identity, and who has lost respect and dignity as a human being.
Roommate speaks another language
Upon arrival we asylum seekers whisper to ourselves: “For once I will be protected, no one will hurt me, people will understand me, nobody will come home with a gun, a machete, a hammer, a knife, a bomb, or grenade…” But what people do not realize is that once in a centre, secluded in a room with strangers who may have lived a similar or worse story than you, people who do not have the same culture as you and do not speak your language. Sometimes you ask your roommate to give you a toothbrush and he gives you a cup… you live together and you cannot communicate, how can these people help each other? It is of course possible, but difficult. Most of the time, an asylum seeker relies only on himself and is lonely.
It is true that many refugees feel abandoned; my personal analysis is that the origin of this sense of isolation is related to their condition of life now and their applications for asylum, not to mention the vast indefinite period of expectation of the final decision from the Immigration Service or, for some, from the court.
I think the solution for anyone who faces isolation is to have contact with life, to be able to make a contribution to society, to know you are personally safe and have a deep sense of security or being with your family. The only remedy is to receive a favorable response to their asylum claim, and to know that their second home can become a reality.
But in the meantime, the refugees have the choice either to live or to hang on. They do not have the final decision, it is not them who will decide. But it is they themselves who have the keys to inner happiness despite their present difficulties; they are the ones who must accept to live in order to fight this feeling of injustice which breeds isolation, feelings of rejection which lead to loss of hope; they must care for their well-being to live a healthy life.
With hope people can accept with humility those we cannot change. It gives us the courage to face the disappointments, the sorrows and the most intense pain.
Choose for yourself
Refugees focus inwards on themselves because they do not have the right to work, to go to normal school or to get married. They do not have these rights that a human being must have. But there are still options and opportunities open to them to enable them to maintain their humanity and self-respect. Each individual must choose for him or herself. Activities like sports, cooking, painting, writing, singing, making music, dancing, discussing with other refugees, taking a walk and taking care to maintain their appearance are ways forward to preserve one’s personality and dignity although deep inside they cannot forget the suffering that afflicts.
Although the waiting time as an asylum seeker takes long, we must remember it must end sometime; it has a limited duration. The essential and most difficult is to love life, even in the worst suffering.
Life is a gift, life is everything.