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Today is World Refugee Day

We wanted to mark this day by sharing some beautiful words from Fatemah J, a survivor in our program. She writes about her experience as someone who has been forced to leave the place she grew up in search of safety and how she copes with the pain of the changes in her life she's been forced to confront. Her words describe the lack of control that refugees have over their lives and their future and the profound inequality and systemic abuse and discrimintion refugees face. 

We are lucky she is part of Lamp Lifeboat Ladder and hope she is able to find peace and light in Canada.   

For me, being a refugee means taking that little sliver of hope in light and diving with it into the darkness.

Each refugee feels differently about being a refugee, but for me, the images and hopes I once had lose color each day.  Being a refugee is being caught in a cycle, with the only thing propelling us forward is the hope of moving onwards - to another country - though uncertainty awaits us there and we may find nothing. But imagining it alone keeps us a bit hopeful, and keeps us moving, like a hamster spinning on a wheel in its cage.

For me, being a refugee is like having a wound on your body that only you can heal. But each time you feel that it’s healing and getting better, forces outside of you, beyond your control, reopen your wound and you realize you may never heal.

I feel like I have always found myself in a world telling me I am not as good as others — whether as an Afghan in Iran, as a woman in patriarchal societies, as a refugee in Greece.  This has caused me to feel like I should not exist. That I should feel shame.  But I am trying to overcome this. I am trying to become stronger. I am learning about human rights and human dignity and the worth of every individual.  Yoga has helped me with this. And I hope to use yoga to help others like me - other refugees.

My hope and dream for the future is to imagine myself in a place where I am an equal to others, to change the ideas and thoughts that have been forced upon me since childhood…. And my dream is to use yoga as a way to accomplish this and to teach it to others.

About the author

Sophie McCann

Sophie McCann is a program director and advocate with experience in international development and human rights advocacy in the UK and internationally. She specializes in refugee and migrants’ rights and community-based mental health and gender programming. Sophie is part of the Lamp Lifeboat Ladder team focusing on organizational development and communications.

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