Last week, a tragedy within my own family occurred. While I will chose not to go into detail about the incident, I will say that my family is safe, and that I know where each member of my kin is, something that cannot be said of the many genocide refugees we read about for this week. Reading stories such as Anthieng’s or Grace’s story, pertaining to their family was very difficult for me during this time. However, after reading these stories, while in the comfort of my home, with a dog at my feet and a fat orange cat yowling for attention, I immediately stood up from the comfortable couch where I laid, and hugged my mother; simply, because she was there. Grace could not say the same. Her story deeply touched me, for she spoke of the love she had for her mother, a commonality the two of us share. I am in constant communication with my own mother, swapping stories on a day to day basis over the phone, and running home to North Carolina when I need that family time to pick myself back up from the rigors of college life, and be in a warm, safe, peaceful environment; to be in my own home is to be at peace. The refugees cannot say this. Their homes are filled with hatred, filled with fighting, and death, and lacking freedom. In one story, Farid Ahmad spoke of his home, Afghanistan, and how he had lost his own father, how is mother was not allowed to work, and the challenges his family faced just to stay afloat in the world. I am blessed to always know where my family is, to know they are there for me to protect me, provide for me, and love me, a constant support system no matter where I am. Farid does not have this, yet he still speaks highly of his home, saying how beautiful his country is, that it can be a good place, yet we (as Americans, and others, the ‘outsiders’) attach a stigma to his country that becomes difficult to erase, and blurs the view that he himself sees.
In another story, Grace spoke about missing her mother, someone she had been apart from for many years, the only thing keeping her attached to her mother was the ‘imagination’ she held for her, the touch of her hand, or the kiss her mother would give her; how tragic to be separated from the person you care so much for. Personally, I don’t think I would have the strength, in that situation, to survive without my mother. Therefore, Grace’s strength speaks highly to me. Being separated from family is hard; however, not knowing where your family is, or if they are safe, seems like an impossible burden to live with, something that could haunt you as you sleep. It hurts me to read these personal stories and hear the struggles so many refugees have gone through in losing family members, in watching them be killed or raped with their own eyes. I don’t know how you come back from a tragedy like that, but many have. I admire the courage and strength they hold, and hope more families can be reunited. As one of the refugee’s David Sam said “my family is my happiness”, and well, I completely agree.