Sharing Our Story

Nowhere To Go To Be Safe

Authored by: 
as told to James Folley, Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support

Hi, you can call me Mr. A. I need to keep my name secret because my refugee claim has not yet been heard and my family is still not safe. I left my home in Iraq, the country of old civilizations, the land of poets, wealth, oil, rivers and the new home of American glories. Everywhere in Iraq there is a woman or a child dying for the new democracy. Iraq has become the world’s battleground.

Now I am in Canada. I confess that I am enjoying security and freedom, but I am still suffering. My wife and three children are under the protection of the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in another Middle Eastern country. However, the UNHCR is very weak. Realistically, they are unable to protect my family.

I am working, but earning so little. It has been hard to find a good job. I can read and write English, but hearing and understanding are still a challenge; I am doing my best. I miss my family. My Mennonite friends help, but the solitude is very hard. When I talk to my children, I feel sad for the whole day. I do not know how long it is going to be before I see them again.

Meanwhile, the whole process of applying for refugee status feels very slow and uncertain. It can take two to three years. The Canadian Government has said they are going to make it a priority to help Iraqi refugees, but I have not seen any changes. Family bonds need to be respected. I often ask myself why I can’t bring my family here?

When I arrived in Canada, the Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support was a big help. If I had not had the support of the staff there - especially during my first month in Canada - I would be in a very critical situation. It is not always about money. To have a guide is more important.

Canada is a kind country. I like the multiculturalism here. Although there are some refugees who make up stories, most of us are here because there is nowhere we can go to be safe. We do not only want to receive, we want to give to make this country a better place. The other day, during a snowstorm, I was delivering pizzas and I saw a man stuck with his wheelchair. The weather was terrible. It took me 20 minutes to help him. My boss called and asked, “Where are you?” I explained. He responded, “Why are you wasting your time?” I figured that people can wait for their pizza. How can I ask for help from Canadians, if I can not offer help to others who need it? Is that not what being a disciple of Jesus is all about?