I wrote this blogpost in 2015 in Dutch, but seeing that not much has changed made me publish it again. Translated in English this time.
Fairytale… but different…
Once upon a time there was a man who lived with his family in a small town on the edge of the desert. It was hot every day and naturally not much grew. Still, with some inventiveness, a water irrigation and distribution network of pipes had been installed, which the lady of the house had still helped developing. The man himself worked as a teacher and his children, 1 son and 2 daughters, all attended school. One day the teacher saw that the local police station near the school was unmanned and when he left the school later that afternoon he saw strange bearded and armed men walking around who began to address women and girls that they were not wearing a veil. 2 days later there was a knock on his door and two gunmen told him that the school was closing. His son was allowed to go to the Koranic school a bit further down the road and his daughters were not to dress so immorally. When his wife came home later, she wept. She was fired for no reason while working on a succesfull irrigation project. The already meager income evaporated and a month later the savings had shrunk considerably. Then suddenly the government army attacked the village in the middle of the night. A bomb fell two houses away from the family and no one had woken up there. In the months that followed, the village switched hands, but that did not mean that the husband and wife could work again. There were tell-tales in the area and if the village changed hands again next week, infidels were punished harshly. The family saw no way out and it was jointly decided to move away. But where to. The man knew a cousin of his headmaster who had already left. He had gone to Germany and told them that you could still find work there and offer the children a safe place to stay. OK so go to Germany. But that did mean that they had to give up their house and piece of land and say goodbye to family. Saying goodbye to friends was out of the question because who could you trust? So leave and do it now, because now there was still enough money to pay a guide and driver and now the village was in government hands…
Being a refugee
That’s how I imagine refugeehood. I do not believe that refugees only move to Europe for a better life (in a financial sense). I have never spoken or met anyone in my travels who wants to migrate for that kind of reason. When we talk about economic refugees, these are often people who simply cannot support their families. And now look at yourself. If you can’t provide enough income or food to sustain your wife and children to keep them healthy and build a future worth living for, you’ll do anything to change that. Or am I crazy now?
What makes me very angry is that there are people who claim that where they live, other people do not have the right to come and live there too. From what do you derive that right? Is the fact that you were born here such a great achievement? Yes, you may have already worked here and helped build society, but I think refugees also have that willingness. And if not, then you have the right to speak. But not beforehand.
Therefore, a call to everyone who reads this to think about the why of being a refugee. These are people who desperately need help and that may mean that we have to use our super-rich western standard of living for that. Hoping not to step on too many sensitive toes, but instead moving readers to start thinking…