Last Night I Dreamt I was a Refugee

Last night I dreamt I was a refugee.

I was offered an opportunity by a stranger, “leave with us or stay here and die. If you go with us, you may also die, but you may also make it to safety and have a future. If you stay here, there is no future. And if you die, at least you die trying to survive, here you are a victim.”

Making the decision was the hardest part. They said I could never come back if I got on the boat, they said there was no way back home. There was not even enough time to say goodbye; if I did not make it safely to shore, my family would never know what had become of me.

I was in love in my dream, and I knew I could never see my lover again, and it filled me with agony and distress. So I asked myself, is it better to die soon, being able to see my family and my love each day for the time we had left? If I stay I would die, or I would watch them die or both. I would have no future where I was.

The other option was try to live a full life, but I would always miss my family and wonder if they were alive, hurt, sick or maybe doing fine.

I decided to go, somehow I felt that I owed it to my family to stay alive, I knew they would want me to have a future, even if I was leaving them behind to face such danger and hardships. I had an opportunity and I had to take it.

We stepped into a small raft and pushed off out to the sea, the journey was terrifying and perilous, but we made it. In my dream I arrived to a land where everything was different and I didn’t know how to live, or act or be. It was scary, and I was terrified. Soon after, I had gotten word that my family was killed and that everyone I knew was dead. The indescribable pain that followed made me believe that maybe I had died too.

Last night I dreamt I was a refugee and it was a nightmare.

Michaelle
Refugee rights advocate/caseworker
Doctoral researcher on refugees and human wellbeing.