10 LIFE LESSONS FROM REFUGEES ON BUILDING A HOPEFUL TOMORROW:
Displacement is not just an outcome of a major circumstantial adversity in modern times; it is a human emotion today. Almost every person in today’s world has undergone the experience of leaving one’s home to adapt to an unknown setting, in some capacity or the other. From the woman in Kathmandu, Nepal who lost her house to a devastating earthquake to the young girl in Kabul, Afghanistan who ran away to Iran after the Taliban closed her school; to a graduate student in Kohima, India shifting base to a new city for his first job ever; everyone is trying to find the best possible way to fit into an all new environment—the one that is uncertain and unfamiliar to them.
In the third year of Project FUEL’s once a year exclusive program—The Masterpiece Tour, we travelled to document the life lessons of the people affected by the migrant crisis- both refugees and the citizens of the countries that have provided an asylum to them. We started from Sweden and travelled through The Netherlands, Germany and France, and finally concluded it in Hungary.
Throughout the 90 days we studied integration to create enabling communities. Through a daily social media reach and on-ground activities, we aimed to humanise the refugee stories through their life lessons.
Understanding conflict through the lens of life lessons is significant because it eliminates the creation of stereotypes and transcends the cultural context.
We present to you 10 life lessons out of the many we’d collected during the tour, hoping that it helps you understand, learn from and empathise with these wonderful human beings.
1.People can say a lot of things about you. They will have opinions and judgements. It took me time but I eventually found out that I like to protect myself and yet respect others. As a person, that is what I have found for myself and everyone should try to find for themselves.
Life Lesson: To find yourself is crucial- Aryin, 24
2. You know, it might sound crazy but when I was in the boat fleeing with 44 other people, we were singing. I really enjoyed that experience. I was mesmerized that we were in the middle of an ocean. No one to be seen—as far as one can look. And there we were a bunch of people in a boat singing. I learnt from them to enjoy the moment even if it is the hardest. Don’t you love yourself when you are happy? Who doesn’t? Happiness guides you to better things.
Life Lesson: Be happy no matter what happens- Hadi,27
3. I had everything in my country. But I have lost it all. Since I came to Germany, I have been going to school every day. I try to learn German. The language is tough but I am learning slowly. I am good with cooking and therefore I want to use these skills to build a new life for myself and for other women who have nothing to do here.
Life Lesson: Life is full of ups and downs- Selma, 50
4. I come from a very rich family and my parents never even asked me to move a pin. And still I chose to leave home and be a refugee. I earn very little in Paris but I still send some money home because I love to. My parents don’t ask for it but I feel I can make their life a little more comfortable at this age. Parents do so much for us without expecting anything in return. Yet so many of us forget to acknowledge that selfless love. I don’t ever want to have that regret.
Life Lesson: Take good care of your parents.
5. I have five children. Four of them are here with me in this refugee camp. The eldest one has been kidnapped by ISIS. All my life I have ensured that my kids are happy. Even in this camp, my happiest moment is when my children are all together with me in the room. I pray that the eldest one comes back to me. I am losing hope but somehow I still believe that soon the government will be able to save all the abducted girls. Children are precious and pure.
Life Lesson: Every child in the world should be loved- Naam, 55
6. Back home I had a job; I was a social worker. I studied in an university there. I came here and I had nothing to do. Yet you have to fit into the community. Language is one of the biggest concerns. But you still have to bridge the gap to fit into the society. It is really tough, so how do you do it? You have to try your part and find everything to make it possible. And that’s why I feel, one needs to accept the reality. As you can’t do much to change it; what you can do is to influence what lies ahead of you.
Life Lesson: Accept life how it is and never complain too much. Try the best from your side, from what you can with the help of others.
7. When I have a visitor in the camp I feel good but when I am by myself, all I think about is my country and my people. I can’t forget the laughter of my friends and the comfort of my family. War does no good to anyone. I want my friend, my mother, my brother back in my life. I see them in everyone and that is why I try to help others.
Life Lesson: Live to serve and help others- Habeeb, 25
8. During the 8 hours trek when I was walking in absolute darkness I felt I am really going to die. The road was rough and I could hear the sea below me. I could smell it. So, I knew that I was walking on a cliff and on a road that wasn’t even paved and I could fall any moment. And the smugglers, they tell you- “if you fall, we will leave you”. And believe me that really got me thinking about how any man can be in my position with change of certain events. My mind for those 8 hours became a grinder. I learnt this lesson in that journey.
Life Lesson: Geographical borders are useless because they make you judge others- Jihad Asad
9. The course I was doing in Syria was all about grades. No one cared about the skills or talents. It was all about the marks you get. I believed in something that I didn’t like. When I came to the Netherlands, I started working in something that made me feel satisfied. My advice to myself and others from this experience is that- don’t think a lot about the things that you didn’t choose for yourself, like your color or religion or background or place of birth. Pay attention to the things that you get to decide for yourself. I have received my residence permit, I will be getting my own house on the 1st of July, I have a job and a will to discover more about myself, just because I had the courage to do what I like.
Life Lesson: Just try your best to do something that you really like and not something you are forced to do. You can only show your talent with something you like- Faris Alkadi, 26
10. Even at 60, I have worry about my safety and my future. I have to wait to see how it turns out. I have to wait for a residence permit and my work permit. And for my family to come here. I have to wait for everything to get back to normal. But this waiting period can be used to polish my skills and can be used to share it with others. That is how you teach yourself to be patient.
Life Lesson: Be patient and channelise your talent- Khaled, 60
To know more about The Masterpiece Tour click here:http://projectfuel.in/themasterpiecetour/3