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What life as a refugee is really like

Just imagine you’re running from the only home you’ve ever known. Literally running.

Our group had 60 seconds to choose five items to take with us on our journey — things like money, a cell phone, shoes, clothing, a passport and medicine.

Next we headed to a rubber boat that fit maybe 15 people safely. Before we got on the boat, we were told to give up one of our five items. At every stop on my virtual refugee experience I was told to give up another one of my five items until, at the end, I had nothing.

Christina told us that sometimes people have to leave behind family members.

Once aboard the lifeboat, Christina held up two life vests and told us that were this an actual boat, the life vest we each received was probably fake. The boat for 15 would eventually carry up to 60 passengers including men, women and children who cannot swim.

I was on dry land, this was not real, but my heart was actually racing.

Once off the boat, we walked to an area with barbed wire: our destination. Instead of experiencing a wave of relief for arriving safely at a place of refuge, I felt as though I was entering a prison. And in many cases, especially for women, that is the case.

Christina informed us that in some countries when women arrive at refugee camps without husbands, they and their children are considered “without citizenship.” Meaning they are a non-person. They can’t work and they can’t get papers, which means they can’t get out of the camp once they’ve been admitted.

Source: Salon: in-depth news, politics, business, technology & culture > Politics

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