‘Dear Stranger’, a personal letter from a refugee to all of us

Today is World Refugee Day. It is the day that we stand in solidarity with those around the world who are displaced due to conflict or persecution. It is the day that we reflect on their journeys to safety, remember the many that didn’t make it, either because they couldn’t leave or because their treacherous journeys took their lives. It is also the day that we celebrate the resilience of the human spirit, our ability to come through dark times and shine. Today I share with you Nahid’s dream for her family and her daughter. Nahid is everywhere, in America and in Europe, in Asia and Oceania, in Africa and the Middle East. Please, wherever you are, help the ‘Nahids’ in the world to see that we live in a world where love and kindness persevere.

Dear stranger,

My name is Nahid and I left my country with my husband in June 2014. I am a survivor of torture and violence. In September 2016, our beautiful daughter N. Zahra was born. I encountered multiple challenges during my pregnancy and delivery. I was unable to afford regular pre-natal checks and as a result developed gestational diabetes requiring emergency admission. Thankfully our daughter was born healthy and after a few days of hospitalisation I was discharged.

We are very grateful to our country of asylum, even though we are considered illegal migrants, without the right to work or study. After our daughter was born we grow more concerned about her future here and struggle to wait for resettlement as we see no future for her here or back in our country of origin.

Growing up my life has been hard. I was not allowed to finish high school or pursue my dreams to become a doctor. I was continually treated badly by persons close to me resulting in me having a miscarriage. I accepted it as my fate and I was not strong until I met my husband. Now with my daughter, this strength and renewed hope only grows stronger.

My husband and I don’t want our child to feel like a refugee or that she cannot achieve her dreams for a better future. She is born a refugee but we want our daughter to have options. Living here provides us with limited to no options. Zahra will not be able to go to school, she will not be able to have an identity, she will not be able to pursue her ambition, and she will not be able to work legally. My husband too works hard but struggles to provide for us financially as he is not allowed to work here legally. We want our daughter to be protected, have stability and an identity. We want her to have an equal chance as any other person in life.

I want to teach my daughter tolerance and to respect other people’s different views. I want to create a safe space for her where she can be who she wants to be even though she is a girl. I want to teach our daughter kindness and that she has the right to be respected and treated fairly. I want to teach our daughter to help other people and give back to society when she grows up. I cannot do this here, where we are, as here we are only surviving and feel like outsiders or that we don’t belong. My husband and I struggle to protect ourselves here, how can we be expected to create a safe space for our child? In my country and here at times I made to feel like a lesser human being; like I am not worthy. It is disheartening and I don’t want my daughter to grow up feeling the same.

My husband wants to further his education and despite having no opportunities to do so formally here, he has participated in as many courses as he could, organised by NGOs. It is still my dream to become a doctor and with the right opportunities, and despite my age I will pursue this dream in the health related field.

Both my husband and I are hard working people and strive to be contributing members to society. We want to teach our daughter these same values. When I first arrived I had repeated thoughts to end my life and although I am working on these thoughts, they do come back sometimes. But my daughter has given me renewed hope and makes us try to be better people and create a better life.

As we struggle to give her options and a safe place here, we ask that you help us give her these options and a safer place to grow up. We ask that you create the first opportunity for her to have a better life and to be treated fairly. We ask that you provide our daughter the platform to feel like a human being and that she is worthy to have an identity, basic human rights and the chance to pursue her dreams.

Yours sincerely,