So, you’re a human being right? Yeah, I thought so. If you saw bombs raining all around you, your beloveded partner and children, soldiers shouting and shooting all around you, would you close the door and wait for death?
Hmmm, better yet would you turn to your partner, possible your sole breadwinner, possible not – and demand he risks his life to fight for a cause he does not believe in or support? Even if he does he will most likely die how will you survive then? You might be able to gather some work, but who will look after the children? They are already skinny and scared looking enough as it is, you cannot leave them now. But you cannot afford to do nothing.
Like any mother/father/sister/brother you want the best for your family. You worry for them, you cannot let them grow up in this country that has become hell’s gate. It is your home, the only place you’ve possibly ever known, but you must leave. Your children have no prospects here, no education, no safety, no futures. Who knows what will happen to them if they stay; will they be killed, tortured or forced to join the brutal army or gangs that roam the diplated cities?
But where do you go? Your partner hears of smugglers willing to transport people out of the country. The price is high – it is risky, out on the open sea, you don’t trust the smugglers but you cannot afford any other way and you cannot stay. Your partner offers to go over first, to find work, a place to stay and to bring you and the children over safety as soon as he can. But time is against you, that is no longer a viable option. You cannot know how long that will take.
You give the smugglers whatever they ask, they look at you like you are nothing to them, cargo that whether you live or die, they still get what they want. The children are scared, the passage is frightening, you have no life jackets, the raft you are on is shaky and poorly made. You put on a brave face and soothe the children though terror nearly strangles you. Your partner does the same to you, trying to protect you, but you see the fear in his eyes, much like the children see in yours. A young mother’s baby near you will not stop crying, the smugglers are losing patience, threatening to throw the baby overboard if it doesn’t stop. What animals you think. Thankfully, your children are older and know to keep quiet except for the quiet gasp of terror they let escape in moments of fear, for this you are extremely grateful. Your whole life is in the hands of these men.
A man falls sick and rather than risk it spreading, the smugglers shoot him and throw him overboard. His only family, a young boy, is orphaned in the blink of an eye. You beckon him over, comfort him. The rations are getting ever smaller now, the smugglers have kept the majority for themselves. You still cannot see land. The children begin to complain of hunger, you quiet them – afraid what the smugglers will do. You pray to see land. You pray and pray and pray but it does not come. You begin to worry the smugglers are lost. They begin to argue violently, threatening all the others on board. The food runs out. They kill another man and you fear this is the end. But then the smugglers stop, they see a ship in the distant.
A ship has come to your rescue. You see young men dressed in army clothes and your stomach tightens. Will they kill us? But no, they seem to be helping. They seem kind though you cannot understand much of what they are saying, a few words here and there. You attempt to relay your gratitude and thanks but the words do not sound right, and you are weak and shaking. They smile and help you on board another ship. They arrest the smugglers but two have escaped capture pretending to be refugees. You are too afraid to tell these men.
Finally, you see land. You are brought ashore. You see people. Some look at you with sympathy and some do not. You enter into a large camp, another woman who has heard from others in the camp tells you you will be staying here for some time. This is not what you hoped for, but anything is better than being on the boat.You are lucky to have made it with your entire family intact. But soon you grow sad, the camp is not clean, the conditions are not sanitary, people are lost, your children begin to look sick and depressed. You see the young orphan boy wandered the camp in tears – he looks completely lost and without hope. He has lost everything. You let him join your family. You cannot leave such a young soul or any soul on their own without any family. You will care for him, love him like your own.
Of course you are glad to be here, but still you are human, you have hopes. You want to build a life for your family, get a job, a nice house all the things you left behind at home. You did not come here to do nothing, to become nothing. But everyday you hear more discontentment and news that some of the people that live in this country don’t want you. They think you’re dangerous, they think you came here for their money. They want you out. But would they not have done what you did in your position?
But you came here because like them, you are human. You will continue on, you will travel further if that means you can achieve the life you want for those you love. You did not cross such treacherous seas, risk your families lives to do harm to others. If only they could look into your eyes, if only they could see how like them you are, how human you are.