Not sure why I was thinking of this for a little while now, maybe because I was reading a story about the people who immigrated to Bahrain from various places even before the discovery of oil. Maybe because the story affected me as what happened to them and how the meagre way of life that they had occupied meant that they must forget their parents? in any case, I am one of those that had immigrated few times in my life to various places.
My first immigration was to Dubai, and then to UK and finally to New Zealand. I must say that despite the struggle, I had had a good life along with my family. The word “struggle” means that one is living in a foreign land, where one has to make new friends, know where to live, get a job, learn the traditions and customs of the new place, know where to shop, where to buy the best veggies. That is not the end of it though, one has to learn the accent, know the new vocabulary, and many more nitty-gritty details of that country. For example, we need to know how to vote, and vote for whom? should we follow a certain party? or just vote haphazardly? living in a different place than home is a struggle, it’s like learning a new language; it’s not that easy and we must muster the vocabulary of life in all its aspect. I will give you just one example, for years while living abroad I never tried mince pies! these are little pies made from a mix of raisons and dried fruits, these are either soaked in some sort of liquid like orange juice or alcohol. Of course, I read “mince pie”, and I imagined mincemeat (actually they are called mincemeat pie) until the last month of living abroad, someone offered me a mince pie and I said that I cannot have it as it could be not halal, the person laughed so hard at me, saying that it doesn’t have meat, and the filling ingredients are totally fruit based. So, I accepted her offer, and fill in love with it. I regretted not eating it in all the years that I was abroad. Whenever someone comes to visit from that country, I would ask them to bring a few, just to reminisce on those memories again. Another thing we liked in one of those countries is the biscuits, all the brands are so tasty, and you would think that they are home made. I wanted to surprise my son on his birthday last month by filing a basket of those goodies that are made in that country, his siters and him had a ball, and their kids were just surprised to see these young adults munching away like that.
So, to immigrate is to find a good life. However, what about to be a refugee? that is even worse. if we immigrate, we are doing that voluntarily as we do not have to, but we want to give ourselves a new way of life, we can return back at any time we want to. those that immigrated as refugees went because of fear of wars or their rulers. I have seen many nationalities during my life that had to take refuge in different countries, for example, Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis, Africans, South Americans and so on. Every one of these immigrants had so much struggle to reach their destination. Some of them were drowned in the sea, some got stranded in another country and were living in limbo (like those that are still in Turkey, Indonesia or Greece) and some are still waiting in another country for the United nations refugee committee to sort them out. These people had to leave mainly of fear of the wars. and many of them didn’t have their qualifications with them. Amongst them are doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers and all the other qualifications amongst them, but they had no way of proving it.
An artist tried to depict the Syrian refugees and this says it all: https://youtu.be/LTGOdyAlNww
I was feeling so sad once in a conference for education. The conference was represented by all western countries, and this one in particular was discussing how to make life easier for the refugees. The whole western world was bending backword to welcome and help the refugees and all were thinking how to integrate them in the life of the western country. The main discussion revolved around the qualifications and how to prove that these refugees are actually holding them. Thus, the suggestion was to create a “passport of qualifications”. The person would be tested on every discipline he or she are claiming, if they pass, they are provided with the passport. If they cannot speak the language of the country then they are tested in their own language, and then trained to speak the country’s language and integrated into a job.
In both cases of immigration, one feels sad, but the refugee is sadder, as he or she had left everything behind, and some even left some members of their families.
So, I guess that living abroad or immigrating is one and the same; whether one went just to try another place or one has to because of a certain situation, in all cases it’s not easy.
My wish is for us the Arab countries to help the refugees and bring them where the oil money is, as we are the countries of peace and forgiveness.