Home… I believe whenever the word “home” is mentioned, most of us (if not all) get the feeling of warmth, coziness and perhaps nostalgia. For some, Home means family, for some it means the smell and taste of mama’s food. For some, it’s those arguments with the parents and little fights with the siblings that mostly end up by “want some ice-cream? – no eye contact”. Home means so many things so many good feelings. But for some other people, Home could mean “War”. It could mean destruction. It could mean others losing their loved ones. It could mean just a temporary shelter. It could also mean so so many things… and believe me, it isn’t always positive.
The thing is, we take “home” amongst other blessings in our lives for granted. We sometimes forget what it means. But only those who lost it, know how it really means….and feels.
Egypt is home for a not-so-little number of foreigners, whether they were economic migrants, asylum-seekers or refugees. Many victims of war from all around the world, especially, the Arab world, escape to Egypt. And no one can deny that the Egyptian authorities were very flexible hosting asylum-seekers, especially with the media always reminding us by how welcoming Egypt is to immigrants but is it really?
Unfortunately, a lot of the Egyptians live with the mentality of “if you live, I die”. They picture migrants as people who came in to steal their opportunities, careers, and their country’s resources. They think that migrants are occupying their homeland, without any regard to what led them here, or why they left their home country. I know this is not how everyone thinks, but I dare you, yourself, to admit that you haven’t thought this way, even slightly. I used to work with refugees and asylum-seekers, and I was shocked with the amount of hate directed to people with darker skin, and I’m so ashamed to say it, but the darker, the worse. People with darker complexions were harassed in the streets by Egyptians. Since a lot of them undocumented, and even if they’re, refugees do not get a work permit according to the Egyptian Law, which is why they’re considered as cheap labor. Really cheap to the point that employers exploit them. Not to mention that their co-workers treat them like second-class citizens. And these are not only their claims, these are things I personally witnessed on a daily basis apart from work.
On the other hand, those who succeed and work hard, are also criticized. Yes, unlike the previous example, they’re not a burden on the country, but they’re a burden on the citizen as if one’s dreams were taken away from them, just because a Shawarma shop opened in their street! Come, on!
I am not biased, but that’s just not fair. Living in a country that host migrants or asylum-seekers or whatever their label, is (not going to go far and say a bliss) not negative. That means that you live in a country that is full of resources and opportunities. Having more people on your land means more collective power. It means that your country has a heart… a kind one, doesn’t it?
I am aware that hosting a huge number of migrants can be challenging in some cases, yes. But it’s all about how you view it, perceive it, and react to it. If you only look at the negative side, that’s because you chose to, and it doesn’t mean that it’s all negative. Think about what those people went through, what they faced, what and whom they lost. And put yourself for once in their shoes. Your country is fired with war, and you escape leaving everything behind; damaged houses, torn families, and shed blood. And even if these migrants are here for economic reasons, will you turn an opportunity to work abroad that’ll improve your status because you’ll be a burden on the country. Again, Come.On.
It’s all about your mindset, and what’s in your heart.
So next time when you come across a refugee or a migrant, be grateful that you have 4 walls and a roof to shelter you, that you have a safe homeland, and remember that they don’t. Make them feel home.