What is it to be a refugee? Of course, in the technical sense of the word it means something about being forced to leave where you live and travel to a place that isn’t your home. And I guess the reasons for leaving where you grew up can really vary. I mean here in Sudan it often has to do with the fact that there’s no more food, or that someone is attacking your home. Those are the truest technical definitions of what it means to be a refugee, right? But people here leave their home because it doesn’t make sense to stay there for other reasons too. If you want to have a high school education you need to go somewhere where there is a high school. If you need to make some money to take care of sick parents or poor friends you go where there are jobs to be had. If there is exciting work to be done in a far off place you go far off. If you want to marry the perfect one but there isn’t space for her where you live you move somewhere else. Obviously we’re not just talking about Sudanese villagers. But there’s something of the reluctant refugee in all of us, isn’t there?
|Tetherball with a stick, a piece of rope and a sock filled with dirt.|
|A tea & hookah shop in the market.|
|Daily chores in the camp.|
Maybe more of us are refugees that we realize. I certainly left where I grew up to travel to a far away place. Some of us leave our hometown for a place that isn’t so hostile to our ambitious goals. Some of us leave because the way of life we believe in is being somehow oppressed and we feel like we simply have to go.
It isn’t easy to leave home, especially when you don’t feel like it’s your choice. But life can be bearable, and even amazing, despite being in someone else’s land and not knowing if you’ll ever go home again. We bring home with us when we don’t forget the important relationships. And we find home in the place where we sit around the fire with people we love. Living like this isn’t easy. And the Sudanese in Yida have serious challenges ahead. It’s not a perfect place. But we could probably learn something from them. Something like how home is what makes you feel whole and the people that satisfy you. Something like that.