15 May Celebrating family during difficult times
If there’s one good thing that has come out of this pandemic, it’s that the lockdown has brought us closer together. It’s been a leveller in terms of a shared, human experience. That’s not to say that it has been the same for everyone, it’s far from it. But, we have found ourselves experiencing a similar global narrative from which to derive meaning. As lockdown measures came in all across the world, people suddenly found themselves alone. Separated from loved ones, even if only streets apart.
Remember how bad days felt, when all you wanted was to see your loved ones?
Remember how you felt celebrating important moments on Zoom?
How many times did you wonder if and when you’ll see them again?
Now imagine that this lockdown goes on for five years, how much would those feelings intensify? Well, unfortunately, that’s what life for refugees is like. They live with corona-like restrictions from the day they flee their homes.
Today, on International Family Day, we want to celebrate the importance of family, however you choose to define it. We’ve all experienced pain and loneliness when separated from ours; the feeling of powerlessness when we’re unable to be there for them. Soon, life will regain some level of normalcy. We’ll be reunited with loved ones, who we will rush to shower with love and care, not taking for granted the time we have with them. And as we do that, we mustn’t forget the 70.8 million refugees for whom family will still remain out of reach.
War pushes people to make desperate choices. Many refugees have to choose who goes and who stays. Families are often split across borders that remain closed to them, with or without a global pandemic. This was life for Mohammed and his wife, two of Katsikas camp’s first residents. After a year of living in a tent, he and his wife were able to move into accommodation in Ioannina. But, they were still missing something: their son, who was in Germany. Finally, after 2 and a half years of waiting, they were told that they would be reunited. When they heard the news, they packed their bags; their flights were still one week away. Now in a small town in southern Germany, they get to experience life as a family once again. They are one of the lucky ones.
Family reunification is an important legal pathway for refugee mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, couples and partners to reunite through. We know that times are tough for everyone right now, but as they ease for us, let’s not forget those left behind. Let’s use this shared experience, this renewed understanding of the importance of togetherness, to lend a hand to those whose lives will remain difficult as ours return to normal.
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