Dad dot info
DAD.info form. Ask questions, get answers

My Refugee Experience

It was 1am, and I was being serenaded by a 95-year-old Iraqi​ lady somewhere near the middle of Turkey…

Some months earlier she had fled her home country with her daughter, son-in-law and nine-year-old granddaughter who all clapped along as she sang. I’d only met the family a few hours previous, but they were already calling me their son and had welcomed me into their temporary home accordingly. 

We ate, drank incredibly strong coffee, laughed and cried late into the night as they told me about the fall of their city, their story of escape and their contagious hope for the future. I don’t think I’ve ever been made to feel more welcome or felt more at home in such an alien environment. For all the sad stories I’m sure they could tell, most of the time we laughed. They were incredibly happy, hopeful and joyful in the face of an uncertainty that is impossible for me to imagine. They parented brilliantly and loved each other inspirationally in spite of the circumstances they found themselves in. The nine-year-old girl hummed and sang a happy tune as she danced around their home. For all the craziness going on around them, they exuded peace.
I sometimes wonder what I’d be like in their situation. Taking my family on the run with no certainty over where we’ll end up. Leaving everything I know behind me. The school, the park, the back garden and the familiarity of everything I know. I wonder what I’d take if I had to take the boys over the mountains in the dead of night. I wonder what I’d tell them. How much of the truth they’d know and if I’d be strong enough to protect them so they could hum and dance in a foreign land without a care in the world. I hope I never find out.
It feels like the world is more complicated than ever. That the problems we face are huge and unscaleable. But, behind the overwhelming statistics are families like the ones I stayed with and it’s the people, not the numbers or the headlines that I’ll be remembering and celebrating this refugee week. Families who never wanted to leave. Families trying to find peace. Families looking for a place to call home. The statistics are overwhelming but the individuals behind them are exceptional. 

Related entries

Running to Beat the Chickens

Running to Beat the Chickens

On mile 23 of the London Marathon I was overtaken by a giant chicken. Let's just say, it was a low point… Looking back on my London Marathon ‘success’ I can only assume it was someone dressed up in a costume or perhaps some kind of hallucination. The lactic acid build...

Snow Day

Snow Day

On this day in 2010 I walked through the snow to visit my wife and one-day-old son at our local hospital... Due to various complications, my first born had a short spell of intensive medical oversight before being released into the real world. I chose the frozen walk...

Latest entries

Your Guide to the European Championships

Your Guide to the European Championships

Like it or loathe it, the next few weeks are going to be all about football. If you want the basics to keep up with your footy crazy kids we’ve compiled this handy guide to give you an overview of the upcoming European Championships. UEFA.com What are the European...

ASK DEBBIE- I AM A DAD WITH 50/50 SHARED CARE

ASK DEBBIE- I AM A DAD WITH 50/50 SHARED CARE

Dads, do you struggle sometimes? Who do you reach out to for help? Debbie Pattison, a qualified counsellor at Fegans can answer your questions. Send them in to Ask Debbie at info@dad.info and if she can she will answer. Today’s question is from a dad who shares care...

Pin It on Pinterest