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#Plea: I hope the World will let my child live and find his way back home

Today is the day.

Today I get up, and wake my son. I make sure he is dressed and fed. Today is the day when I hug him tight and kiss his beautiful face, not once, not twice but over and over again.

Today is the day when, as I say goodbye I feel my heart break.

The pain so fierce I think I might die.  And I am surprised that I am still alive.  When I see him walk away, I want to scream and shout, feral in my pain and fear.

I want to hold him back.  Tell him to stop and stay. But today is the day, I will not. I will bid him farewell and watch him till I can’t see him anymore.

Yes today is the day when I will live knowing I might never set my eyes upon him.   I will not know where and how he is. 

I have wondered if not knowing is worse than death and yet I cannot see life snuffed out of the child I brought into this world.  I have to choose and I must protect.  So today I will watch my heart walk out of my body.  My soul will never be the same again.

But, I will live in the hope that the World will let my precious child live and find his way back to where it belongs.

I am angry and I am very afraid.  I leave my Mother, my house, and everything I know.   I leave fear behind but the unknown and more fear await me.

How do I walk away from the woman who taught me to walk, maybe to never return?  Uncle speaks of a wonderful world beyond those Blue Mountains.

But the voice inside me shouts that, it is a lie.  For there can be no place on earth, more beautiful than my village.  I want to pick fruit and climb trees in the apple orchard one last time.  I want to run to the Madrassa and clasp the gnarled hands of the friendly Imam one last time.

I want to play a last game of football with Khalid in the fields behind the graveyard.  Pull my sister Shazia’s pigtail one last time.  Why did I miss school and spend time plotting and planning my next mischief, with my friends, under the almond tree? If I had not, maybe then I could stay.

I should have fetched water for Mother and helped Shazia collect firewood.  Maybe then, they would let me stay.  I have prayed and promised Allah that I will be a good boy.  But Allah is really mad at me, for today, I will have to leave.  They tell me I must leave to save my life.  My roots severed, I do not know how I will fly.

But, I will live in the hope that if I cannot find, I will be found.

A twelve year old somewhere in West Darfur, returning home to see his village razed to the ground by Al Shabab, will walk days on end to reach Libya and if he is lucky after slaving for a couple of years there, will find a spot for himself in an overcrowded Boat headed to Europe.

A pair of siblings will escape a rogue government and its religious persecution in the middle of the night after their Father has been killed and mother arrested, only to be separated in Somalia.

The girl will be trafficked to France and if she is fortunate, she will one day escape sexual slavery and, bearing all the scars, she will travel concealed in a refrigerated lorry from Calais to Dover.

Some will be lucky enough to travel with loved ones only to be separated from them en route.  They do not know where they are or the place they are headed.  They only know they must escape.

There is that Mother who was told that her sixteen year old daughter will follow in the next boat.  The second boat follows but the daughter never comes.  That fateful, twenty-minute journey becomes the reason to live in hope and yet die a little each day.

These are the stories of many who are forced to migrate from war torn countries.

It is not about better prospects, or greener pastures.  It is also not about the tag of ‘foreign returned’ which immediately translates into an assured spot at the highest step on the social ladder.  It is about survival.

It is about desperation of the worst kind.  It is an escape from armed militia, political and religious persecution, torture, rape and death.  It is a desperation that forces people to gratefully embrace the unknown and unfamiliar.

The flimsy dinghy across the Ocean is a gift.  A twelve day trek across Cold Mountain passes in Iran, without shoes and warm clothes and very little food is an opportunity to be fought for.

The Boat which, in all probability, will capsize near Libya or Lampedusa will still be taken.

This is not a planned journey to ‘El Dorado’ as much as Katie Hopkins would like us to believe.  It is desperation.  It is the basic human instinct to survive and die doing so. It is a human tragedy.

Let us not turn our backs to them.

Let us refuse to ignore people in crisis.

Never should we forget what the American Educational Reformer and Politician Horace Mann said “Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves”.

There is a Mother who has her hopes pinned on us.

But, I will live in the hope that the World will let my precious child live and find his way back to where it belongs.

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