An Unfinished Reality

The apathy and neglection that the citizens of the world embrace today lead to the uniformity that we never meant to entail. Evading this convergence to grasp the plethora of benefits that come with a diverse community is instrumental to any institution’s success. The acceptance of our differences broadens the audience we serve and the consumers we aid. However, refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers, etc should never have to require our approval to accept them into society. We are people of morality. We are people of the world, not a region or state. And we should help those in need like we would expect them to do for us in a desperate time.

Breath heavy, eyes swollen shut, arms aching, and an overarching emotion was omnipresent as I woke one morning. I got up from the bed, aghast, perspiring from the horror I had experienced. Everything I had seen was surreal, yet I feared that once I abandoned my comforting refuge, I would face a world of difficulty, of crudeness, of darkness. The nightmare was yet alive. I was trapped as if there were no way out. That moment persisted paralyzing and discarding any strength I had left. My legs violently shook, constantly fighting the force pressing my body back down on the mattress-- it was its own little war. The body was helpless since it was no match to the impact. The battle was nearly identical to a video game as my legs didn’t earn enough power ups to counter the force antagonizing them as a falling video game avatar.

The video game featured an avatar portrayed with bravery and persistence to survive who constantly persisted to search for a life of merriment, family, and satisfaction. The winner would be invited to a world that allowed them to pursue their dreams. Freedom. Expression. Independence. Liberation.

In a literal setting, refugees, after overcoming some of the most strenuous obstacles, are the winners of this game. Yet, winning isn’t enough-- they aren’t invited to the world of freedom, expression, independence, and liberation. Instead, they are summoned into a realm of isolation, additional hardships, and struggles. They did everything to win, but it’s not enough. It is never enough. They aren’t helpless-- they are forced into a helpless situation. Therefore, the game continues. It’s a never ending war.

War. The one circumstance that has caused devastation amongst millions, prevented the birth of a united fronts, a peaceful world, and the progression of many benevolent entities. Often, we believe that fighting makes us stronger, or rather more apt to face any obstacles we have coming our way. But are all those punches, slaps, and curses worth it? I carry this nightmare of disturbance, of war, and of chaos along with me since the day it was born: when I was invited to an event in celebration of World Refugee Day at the Northwest Community Center in Dallas.

We call them poor. We call them vulnerable. We call them powerless. We assign these names because of what they flee from. I spotted her from across the room--a young woman with a smile plastered on her face, but the discontent encompassing her eyesight: the war, the tears, the blood, the separation. At just 9 years old, she fled her home and village after it had been set ablaze. Tears were fighting their way toward the surface as she recounted her story, but she smuggled to suppress them. The weight on her shoulders ever present, much larger than I could’ve ever imagined an individual had to carry and process. Bigger things than I carried. Burdens. Sorrows. Melancholy. She carried them under the smile she initially had on her face. Never did I know that these burdens and trials would turn into my worst nightmare.

It seemed selfish to feel this way without experiencing the agony. After all, what did I have to do with her story? Yet, her problems were now mine. One’s problems can transfer to you even though there is no physical impact. Before this, my problems were the worst. Everyone should have sympathized for the encumbering amount of schoolwork that I sauntered to home with every day or getting rejected from yet another program that I spent hours to prepare for. Yet, these issues were no match to her complications. The most haunting aspect was the fact that I would have never known that underneath that smile there was blood, tears, and war. Going home, I saw nothing but her smile, and then the flashback came. That same flashback that would haunt me at night. It was precisely a cartoon cloud above her head where the recollection took place. My mind wouldn’t stop picturing the possibilities of how the event looked like, so much that I wished I had been there. Maybe if I had been there I wouldn’t have to be burdened with the plethora of ways the disaster could’ve taken place. Then it was another battle, inside my head. How could I be so interested in my own feelings when there was another girl who was suffering the repercussions of war? I carried the empathy for her physical burdens as it slowly integrated into my everyday life as it became a part of me.

I always thought I lived through the worst problems, and while I could give myself a little credit for overcoming certain obstacles, it was no match for hers. Meeting and conversing with her led to the realization that she had no comfort because of various limitations. Seeing my own parents, initially immigrants, adjust themselves to a new environment when arriving to America, had given me initial insight to understand a small portion of what the refugees go through in the United States. There were many problems that she faced, but if I could help assuage some the issues they faced, it would help her adjustment to a new community.

So today, I work towards this passion of helping the ones with nothing but a strong story. I volunteer. And I hope that through my nonprofit, I will reach out to as many of those who carried what she carried despite the impediments. To many, the impact of social work did not extend outside of their local communities, but I learned to carry and inform my colleagues and classmates of what she had to carry as I only learned about her difficulties, but she was forced to inhabit and create her own story. I stand today advocating and working towards helping refugees like her through the lives of others because of the things I carried for her.

Refugees are people who have left their country forcibly due to unfavorable conditions. According to The UN Refugee Agency there are currently 65.6 million people in the world that are forcibly displaced. Out of that selected demographic, 10 million people are declared “stateless”.

To clearly understand the problem at hand, it is crucial for my dear readers to understand what a refugee is. Due to the recent unfavorable political events, there has been an mistaken association present with refugees and those who harm the country. For this particular reason, many refugees not only struggle with cultural and health issues but also social problems because of the societal rejection they face constantly. These problems include and are not limited to: difficulty speaking and learning English, raising children and helping them succeed in school, securing work and housing, accessing services such as transportation.

Adrian B.

April 17, 2018

Comment
Hi Harshika!

Thanks so much for posting this project. I'm curious about how you are making connections to the project you posted previously. The narrative here is powerful--and the plan you had in the other project was powerful, too. Let me know your thoughts!

Best,
Adrian