Think Again

I’d like to tell you a story I’ve recently read and ask you how you feel. Please read and let me know.

Imagine…

… You are 30 years old, married to a beautiful wife, with two gorgeous kids. You have a good enough job to be able to afford a little bit of extras and you own a nice little house in the town you grew up in. Everything seems perfect. Every night after work you sit down with your family and you enjoy a nice dinner. You drink a glass of your favorite wine and after putting your kids to bed you and your lovely wife might enjoy watching a movie or your favorite TV show, cuddling up on your comfortable sofa.

Suddenly though the political situation in your country changes. After only a couple of months soldiers are suddenly standing on your doorstep and in front of everyone’s house.They tell you, that if you don’t join them they will shoot you and while you are trying to grasp what has been said one of them starts touching your wife, telling her to take her clothes off. You get between them eyeing the molester and while trying to understand what’s happening you hear your neighbor tell them that he would never join their cause. A shot and nothing else…

For a reason you still don’t really understand the soldiers leave you alone. For now. For the rest of the evening and deep into the night you keep thinking about what happened. Suddenly you hear an explosion and your living room is gone. You and your family run outside and you realize that almost the entire town is gone. You take your family back inside and rush over to where your parents’ house used to be. It’s gone. They’re gone. While trying to find them you stumble over something. You look closer and discover a hand with a ring on it. It’s your mother’s. Although you try to find them there’s nothing else left of them…

You can’t think anymore. You race home, screaming at your wife to get the kids ready. You grab a little bag as you won’t be able to carry much more. You put two pieces of clothes for each of you in there and your mobile phone plus charger. Somehow you want to try to get a hold of friends and family once you and your loved ones are safe. Your wife grabs your baby girls favorite stuffed animal. And your older daughter takes one of her toys. You’d love to take more but there’s no chance. As the political situation got worse over the last weeks you’ve already gotten as much cash as possible. You take it with you.

You have 15’000. It won’t last for long as the trafficker charges 5000 a head. You can only hope that he has a heart and takes all 4 of you along. Otherwise you will have to say goodbye to your family. A goodbye that most probably will be forever. You pay him. All your money is gone.

The journey to the border by foot lasts two weeks. You and your wife are hungry. Both of you haven’t eaten ever since you’ve left. Both of you are getting weak. You’re carrying your 21 months old daughter. The older one walks as much as she can. Both of them have not stopped crying. You love all of them so much and you wish things would be different…

After two more weeks you reach the coast. In the middle of the night your family and all the other refugees are sent on a boat. Your wife is no longer talking she is just staring into the night. You both haven’t had water for way too long. Your glad that all of you could go on the boat although it’s overloaded and you fear it will go under… You pray that your family will be safe…

Many cry. Some of the younger kids have died. The traffickers throw them over board. The moment the coast becomes visible your split up on smaller boats. Unfortunately you and your family are split up too. You and your oldest daughter on one boat, your wife and the little one on an other one. Everyone’s told to shut up so nobody can hear you when the boats approach the coast.

Your older daughter understands but your little one doesn’t. She’s hungry, cold and scared. She doesn’t stop crying. The other refugees in your wife’s boat are getting nervous. They tell your wife to make sure the girl shuts up. She doesn’t manage. You watch as one of the guys leans over to your wife, grabs your little girl and throws her over board. You jump into the water and you try to find her… But she’s gone. Forever. She would have turned 2 in only a couple weeks…

You don’t remember how you managed to climb back on the boat or how you all made it to shore. You don’t remember how you, your older daughter and your wife got re-united. Everything’s foggy.

You’re wife hasn’t spoken a single word since you’ve lost your little girl. Her eyes are empty, her smile is gone. By now you’ve made it to the refugee shelter. Your older daughter is not letting go of her little sisters favorite stuffed animal. You’ve never seen her as absent…

A man who’s language you don’t understand leads you into a hall with 500 beds. It’s humid, loud and smelly and crowded. You try to understand what you have to do but you struggle standing upright. In a way you wish they would have shot you back then… But you keep going. You manage to smile at your girl, trying to hide the tears building up in your eyes. You look at your wife trying to signal your love and support. You don’t know if she receives it. You unpack the few things from home. Amongst them your little girls pieces of clothes. And your smartphone. And then you sleep in this foreign country for the very first time…

The next day they distribute clothes to all of you. Some of the clothes are luxury brands. You get toys for your daughter and 140 Euro for the month. Everyone takes what they’ve been handed, happy to have something to change into. You change into the clean clothes given to you and step outside. You want to try to reach your friends, family. You hold your phone in the air to try to catch a signal. You need to know who’s still alive back home…

And then a local passes by. He looks at you in disgrace and starts saying stuff which later another guy will translate as:

“F*** off and go back to where you come from! Look at you! Wearing luxury brands and waving a smartphone in the air, getting everything while we have to work out ass off…”

****************

I tell you how I feel right now: Sad, numb, confused and also deeply ashamed.

Fortunately I’ve never had to suffer through something like that. But I watched people come to our country who had been through an ordeal like this. And I judged. I was mad at the government for giving them everything. I was wondering why they would not send them back as they clearly “had everything”. I was too quick to judge. I know now.

I will never be able to completely understand a trauma as such but I will for sure never judge again. The pain, the fear, the loss… Nothing will ever be able to make up for it.

Think again. Think before you judge. Think who would be desperate enough and why to step foot on such a boat and to put their family at risk. You have to be desperate to do so…

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71 thoughts on “Think Again

  1. The story itself is sad, but it gets worse when you think that it may have actually happened to someone.
    Most people never take the time to see things from a different point of view. They just judge, make assumptions, get angry and act generally self-centered. It makes me angry.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes. I did it too. I was young and all I heard was judgmental of the people who arrived in our village… When those you listen to, you are used to listen to, talk badly about someone you unfortunately tend to believe it. I did at least. That’s why I want my kids to learn to question thing even when it comes from us.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Today we all have kind of same stories to tell. It is amazing. I wrote about the sad situation of refuges and about all the tragedies happening at the moment everywhere (not the detailed and long). In Austria every single day they stop trucks on the motorway and find them packed with refugees. Sometimes all are dead – suffocated. Today they stopped a truck and found about 20 or more 16/17 year old teenagers, all totally exhausted. I had long discussions today with my husband about that and alsow with some bloggers. It is heartbreaking, totally heartbreaking, the whole situation, the cause and the ongoing story.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Well Momma that was perfect. I already understand the plight of these people, but hopefully your post will catch more hearts and help spread the word and understanding to more people but this problem needs to be stopped at the root before those soldiers arrive. Hopefully one day we might see a better world.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thankyou for this moving post. If you can try to imagine what horrors these people have seen, and what they are escaping from, if you can feel empathy, you cant help but want to do everything in your power to help.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. That was a terribly moving story Sandra that really brought everything home to me. Those poor people and their dreadful suffering. Just yesterday we were shown images of a 3 year old boy and hos older brother washed up on the shore in Turkey.Heartbreaking. Thank you for highlighting this.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Such a poignant and sensitive description of what it must be like for these souls seeking freedom and safety..it is especially important seeing the tragedy unfolding in Hungary right now. Thank you, Sandra, let’s hope it is an eye opener for many. Brilliant post.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Pingback: Think Again — A Story About Human Compassion and Refugee Immigration | Surviving Extreme Trauma

      • My heart is broken by this story. It needed to be broken. Over the years I have heard many people I respect complain about “the illegals” and gripe about our government’s “hand-outs” to refugees — and I thought they had a point. But this powerful story made me understand how little we understand.

        I have been diagnosed with Complex PTSD from severe childhood and domestic trauma and abuse. My husband has PTSD from combat. We have both witnessed and experienced some horrific things. But this story made me realize how truly blessed we have been. Thank you for translating and sharing this compelling story.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for this comment. Look, there are always some black sheep in the mix, people who try to take advantage of the system. Unfortunately they are the reason why people think the way they do about refugees. I was the same. Instead of focusing on the big picture, the real drama, you only focus on the black sheep…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, you are exactly right. But I believe that anyone with a heart of compassion, who truly understands the situation as explained in this post, would rather have a few black sheep take advantage of the system, than to deny the help that is so desperately needed by the majority.

        Liked by 1 person

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  9. Reblogged this on The happy Quitter! and commented:
    I was in tears yestetday, when I saw the picture of the little boy who drowned. I was born and raised in Europe, I traveled the word. I saw people begging for shelter in a foreign country. My own Grandmother had to flee in wwI and found a new home in Austria, where I was born. I visited Africa, Asia and parts of Easter Europe. I am a first generation immigrant myself, a love immigrant through marriage to my husband. Refugees, migrants, immigrants…many names for people who have one wish only. The wish for a better life~!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A very powerful message.. One of many such lives we know not the stories and the sufferings.. This is the time to reach out in Unity and shame those who judge and point fingers.. And give thanks for our own homes, families and circumstances.. My heartfelt thanks for this post in bringing awareness to others ..

    Bless you
    Sue

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Think Again~! | Bill Banner

  12. Reblogged this on Because I can… and commented:
    I have been very hard hearted concerning the refugees. It is difficult not to be when there are so many in this world that struggle every day just to eat and now must watch people come from another country and be given food, clothing and a place to sleep. It is frightening to know that in among these desperate people are people just as desperate to do us harm and have no problem doing so. And yet…what do we do? Do we shut the door on these people, do we make them go home to die? Or do we open our hearts and our home to them? Give them a place to rest their head and recover from their pain. If we show them compassion and kindness; if we work very hard to show what is the best of us isn’t that the better path? We need to show as much compassion to the poor and hungry in our own country as well. This whole experience should help us learn how to open our hearts and minds. I am ashamed at the fear and anger I have shown. I still know that I would fight anyone who intends harm to me or my family or to those that cannot defend themselves. However, I do believe as a Christian we need to help them. We need to show them charity and kindness, but with caution. You can do both. This story is so sad, but it was a realization as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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