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We have the gift of knowing and learning from many brave people. Welcome; here is another story of a member in our community. 

I opened my eyes after almost ten hours of deep sleep without hearing an explosion and bomb blast. That was my first morning in Vancouver.

I opened the window, took some fresh air and thought about how I spent my whole life in war. I didn’t experience a peaceful life as I was born and grew up in the war. I was thinking I could find that peace here in Canada.

I first came to Canada not as a refugee, but I was obliged to claim refugee status once I was here and I couldn’t go back to my homeland. That was not an easy decision for me, and it’s difficult for all who have done or will do this. I thought about it for one month, and finally I claimed asylum. 

I didn’t even know how to claim asylum; where should I go? I spent hours and hours in the library and searching the internet, and unfortunately I couldn’t find a way. As I was a well-known person in my country and on social media, I kept myself hidden. I didn’t contact anyone in my own community. I paid money to hire a lawyer, but I filled out all the documents on my own, as I didn’t know about the process of legal aid.

Living is not easy in this beautiful city--everybody sees the lights of high towers and buildings but nobody knows how refugees spend their first days in darkness. Many people walk around you, but nobody talks to you. I remember I went to the park and I didn’t find someone to talk to me, to ask me how I am. I am from a big family, so the loneliness came over me and I became depressed. I took medication; spent most of my time in sleep. When I woke up the first question I ever asked was where do I have to go? I didn’t have anyone here, just me and me. I asked many times this question and the answer was the same.

I spent seven months in tears.

“When God closes one door, He opens the other.” I completely believe that in May that's what happened in my life. I met a Canadian woman with a good social group. She was living on the same level where I lived. She asked me why do you always look so sleepy? I just said I took medicine, that’s why.

Since that time she talked to me every night. She introduced me to her community where I met many people. Everybody asks me about my journey and they share all the information that they have. They helped me to stop taking medicine. I became a part of their community; they invited me for every single gathering. I feel more comfortable--like my family.  I am always thankful for this amazing lady. She helps me when I need someone to talk to.

Now I am a volunteer for organizations that work with refugees, after all the bad experience that I had.  The first thing I do for refugees is that I connect them with communities and explain my journey.

As human beings, we need relationships with people in society. It is difficult for a refugee to make this connection. This is how communities can help. No one wants to leave their home unless they have to. A refugee enters a community with all his or her skills and energy, and they ask only for respect and guidance in their difficult days.

A.A.

If you're interested in learning more about the experience of refugees in Canada, come to JUST 58 on October 11! We'll be screening a film on Zoom, and discussing the film together. JUST 58 events are always such a great time to learn something new and connect with the community in conversations about justice. Find out more about the event here.