One day you are living a normal life and the next day your world is replaced by violence and horror. Suddenly, your family is struggling for survival, one or more of your loved ones has been killed or their life is threaten. Forced to flee in a despairing instant to a place that is supposed to feel safe, you need to reset your life to zero and start from scratch in another country. In a moment, your identity as a farmer, a shopkeeper, an artist or a lawyer is reduced to the term “refugee”.
One of the hardest decisions refugees need to make is to leave their families behind as well as their land. Nothing can replace the lost of their families and the loneliness they feel once they are in the safe land.
By the end of 2014 there were almost 60 million refugees and internally displaced people around the globe (more than half were children). In other words, around 8 of every 1000 people worldwide are refugees. Put yet another way, it is as if almost the double of Canada’s population was pushed out of their homes.
Facing a new culture requires living an often painful adaptive process. Learning a new language, facing prejudices from the community, discrimination, low social and economic status, joblessness, social isolation, mental diseases because of traumatic events and family conflicts are some of the stressors that they deal with upon arrival to the “promise land”.
Refugees need protection and a durable solution to be integrated in their new society. Integration is a two-way street and being made welcome is a part of belonging. Many refugees suffer rejection in their new land. It negatively influences their employment, searches for housing and how comfortable they feel.
We need to see them with respect and to give them the value they deserve and to remember that they are people like ourselves searching for a better future.