This year’s World Refugee Day, for me, has had even more significance than it normally does. The challenges of that all of the refugees need to put up with, since getting to know Tahir, have taken a real form for me. Through his experiences, all of the sudden, all what I read in reports and in newspapers, somehow strikes me not only as an abstract idea, but a situation, which exists and affects me. Although I am not a refugee myself, and I am far from claiming that I suffer in any way, somehow through Tahir’s eyes, I appreciate a bit more, how complicated things are. He shows me that being a refugee is not only fleeing for your life, but also overcoming hatred and lack of trust of your host community, overcoming extreme poverty, keeping up sane and hopeful even if their situation is so desperate in many, many different ways.
Keeping in mind Tahir’s experiences, and our struggle in our attempts of finding some kind of a way out of this desperation (finding a solution for his future) makes me feel even horrified when I read about and watch news from my native Poland. Sadly, Poland at large appears to be the country, where the majority of us are hostile to refugees; where the majority do not bother to make distinctions between victims of terror and the terrorists, between economical migrants and those fleeing the persecution. Many of my countrymen just assume that once you are a refugee, you are someone who does not deserve protection and attention, many of my countrymen see the refugees as threat to our own identity and our wealth. Knowing Tahir, and what a wonderful human being he is, and knowing how much he, and people like hime have gone through to survive, yet another day, I just feel disgusted by such attitudes. Yes, what I write may sound harsh, but this is what I feel. On the human level, I just do not comprehend this kind of lack of sympathy and empathy. I understand people’s fears: yes, we all have them; yet I will never understand why so many of us would not challenge and confront these fears, and start seeing humans in other humans. Yes, it may be that I have been blessed with opportunities in dealing with different cultures and thus it is easier for me to accept ‘difference’ or multiculturalism, but taking into consideration the amount of suffering that millions of refugees go through, I find it incomprehensible that so many of us back in Poland do not want to ‘risk’ to open themselves to people, who are so genuinely in need. The whole ‘refugee dynamics’ make me very sad, in fact, it leaves me horrified and depressed.
With this gloomy picture of my own people, I also need to recognise that there are some very fine examples of people, also in my native Poland, who disagree with the mainstream, and try, nearly in a heroic manner to find ways to offer help and protection to people such as Tahir. Here, my sincerest admiration and respect goes to Sister Malgorzata, who so selflessly is doing all what is only possible by a human being to relocate Tahir from Thailand to safety. People like her bring a ray of hope that human kindness may prevail.